Hospitals Keep a Close Eye on Health Reform, But Also Watch Other Bills
Proposals to overhaul California's health care system have been a key focus for hospitals in the state this year, bringing together Medi-Cal payments, charity care and other issues that California hospitals have weighed in on in the Legislature in recent years.
In January, the California Hospital Association applauded Gov. Schwarzenegger and Democratic legislative leaders for pushing ahead on health care reform, although the industry group has raised concerns about some provisions on the table.
Most notably, Gov. Schwarzenegger's health care reform plan calls for hospitals to pay 4% of operating revenue to the state to help raise Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for providers. CHA as recently as last week restated its opposition to that provision.
The hospital group's response to Democrats' plan (AB 8) has been more muted, perhaps because the bill does not seek additional payments from health care providers. That said, CHA's political action committee has donated $100,000 to a campaign fund for a proposed ballot measure to rework California's term-limits law, a cause near and dear to the Democratic legislative leaders.
As lawmakers gear up for further negotiations on health care reform later this summer, hospitals will continue to stake out positions in that debate, as well as other bills with implications for hospital operations:
AB 371 by Assembly member Jared Huffman (D-San Rafael) would require hospitals that apply for financing from tax-exempt bonds to provide a copy of the hospital's injury and illness prevention program with their application (Bill Text, 7/18). The bill is before the Senate Appropriations Committee (Bill Status, 7/18).
Assembly member Mervyn Dymally (D-Compton) introduced legislation (AB 1749) to authorize the Department of Public Health to appoint a temporary manager to operate a hospital in an underserved community (Bill Text, 7/9). The measure is before the Senate Health Committee (Bill Status, 7/11).
Dymally also introduced a bill (AB 52) to require the Department of Public Health to establish a telephone number for receiving patient complaints about hospitals (Bill Text, 5/2). The legislation remains before the Assembly Appropriations Committee (Bill Status, 5/9).
The Assembly Appropriations Committee has passed SB 350 by Sen. George Runner (R-Lancaster) (Bill Status, 7/18). The bill would impose limits on interest-fee repayment plans for hospital bills and would establish policies to extend payment options (Bill text, 6/28).
SB 743 by Sen. Sheila Kuehl (D-Los Angeles) would have required hospitals to assess their processes for detecting, reporting and resolving preventable medical errors, and to prepare a plan for reducing the prevalence of those errors (Bill Text, 5/16). The measure is being held in the Senate inactive file (Bill Status, 6/6).