Hospital Advocacy Group Supports Legislation To Outsource State Review of Construction Proposals
The California Healthcare Association, an advocacy group representing hospitals, is backing a bill (AB 2973) sponsored by Assembly member Rebecca Cohn (D-Campbell) that would allow the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development to outsource most of its review functions, with funding provided by hospitals, the San Francisco Business Times reports. CHA is supporting the bill as part of an effort to expedite the review of hospital construction proposals, as many hospitals are planning projects to meet state seismic retrofit requirements. According to the Business Times, hospitals statewide report delays of as long as two years in having OSHPD approve construction project plans. CHA spokesperson Jan Emerson said that "as more and more projects enter the pipeline, it's going to get worse." According to Kurt Schaefer, deputy director of OSHPD's Facilities Development Division, which handles the seismic safety program, his group currently is reviewing more than $5 billion worth of construction projects, compared with $1.5 billion in a normal year.
John Rosskopf, acting chief deputy director of OSHPD, said that "there may have been some erosion in turnaround time" at the department because of a hiring freeze imposed by former Gov. Gray Davis (D). OSHPD is authorized to fill 19 positions this year and to budget about $5.5 million to hire outside structural engineering firms to review hospitals' plans. Currently, 11 firms are under contract for the project-review work, and the agency is hoping to sign seven additional firms to two-year, $1 million contracts. The proposed state budget also calls for the addition of 31 new positions at OSHPD, which should help reduce the time from the filing of papers to "when shovels are in the ground" to no more than 12 to 14 months, Rosskopf said. He added that delays at hospitals or their architectural or design firms also have contributed to the current backlog, adding that industry estimates of delays are "grossly exaggerated" because many hospitals have received extensions to delay completion of seismic retrofits until 2013 (Rauber, San Francisco Business Times, 5/21).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.