CONTRA COSTA: Sups.’ Bid to Wrest Control of County ERs Denied
Assemblywoman Dion Aroner's (D-Berkeley) bill that would have prohibited urban hospitals from closing or trimming emergency rooms without county approval fell five votes short of a majority in the Assembly Tuesday, the Contra Costa Times reports. Aroner introduced AB 421 at the behest of Contra Costa County Supervisor Donna Gerber after "Kaiser-Martinez ended critical care last year and a winter respiratory disease outbreak overloaded county ERs." The supervisor had argued that while the hospitals can currently shutter their emergency room services or downgrade to standby level with approval from the state Department of Health Services, that decision should fall in the county supervisors' arena. Aroner said she will ask the Assembly next week to reconsider, and in the meantime, she will retool the legislation in hopes of rounding up more support. Assemblywoman Lynne Leach (R-Walnut Creek) abstained from the vote, saying that a "lot of people were uncomfortable" with the "government coming in and telling businesses, in this case, hospitals, what they could do." Hospitals use the same argument, Gerber said, noting that most hospitals rely heavily on public subsidies. "We pay for those services in many ways," she said, "I have to question where the money is going" (Spears, 5/27).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.