EMERGENCY ROOMS: New Legislation Would Keep ERs Open
A controversial bill that would prevent hospitals from closing their emergency rooms because of financial loss, was passed by the California Assembly Wednesday, the Contra Costa Times reports. Sponsored by Assemblywoman Dion Aroner (D-Berkeley), the bill will move to the state Senate, where Aroner promised the legislation would be changed to address the hospitals' fears that they could be "forced to provide emergency medical services even when operating at a loss." Aroner and supporters of the measure called the vote "a major victory," following the defeat of the same bill in the Assembly seven months ago. Under current law, counties and the state can do little to prevent hospitals from eliminating emergency services. However, the new measure could block planned cutbacks in emergency services if county supervisors determine that the closure would not be in the "best interests of the community." Donna Gerber, chair of the Contra Costa County Board of Supervisors, lobbied Aroner to introduce the bill after several area emergency rooms cut services. "We've watched our acute care hospital and emergency room assets decline, which seems counterintuitive. We have more people, not less," Gerber said (LaMar, 1/27).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.