Hospitals Oppose Bill Requiring Them To Limit Fees for Uninsured Patients
Hospital industry groups say that a bill (SB 1394) that would prohibit hospitals from charging uninsured patients a much higher rate than patients with Medi-Cal coverage would make the facilities provide care for less than what it actually costs, the Sacramento Bee reports. The bill, sponsored by Sen. Deborah Ortiz (D-Sacramento), would prohibit hospitals from charging self-paying, uninsured patients more than 150% of the Medi-Cal rate for services. The bill, which also would require hospitals to inform patients about their eligibility for government health care programs and to disclose their charity care policies, will be debated for the first time by the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday. Jan Emerson, a spokesperson for the California Healthcare Association, a hospital trade group, said that 66% of the state's hospitals have budget deficits in part because they provided $3.5 billion in uncompensated care last year. "This bill will create a hospital-funded entitlement plan without providing any additional money," Emerson said (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 4/20). The issue of hospital fees charged to the uninsured has become an increasing concern since a group of uninsured Latinos in February sued Tenet Healthcare Corp., the nation's second-largest hospital chain, alleging that Tenet hospitals overcharged poor and uninsured Latinos as a way to take advantage of additional federal funds hospitals receive for providing charity care (California Healthline, 4/3).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.