KERN COUNTY: Wilson Vetoes Bill To Help Hospitals Repay State
Gov. Pete Wilson vetoed a measure "that would have rescued two small Kern County hospitals from severe financial problems," the Bakersfield Californian reports. Good Samaritan Hospital in Bakersfield and Kern Valley Hospital in Lake Isabella are facing "demands from the state that they return millions of dollars state officials say the hospitals were overpaid for treatment of Medi-Cal patients." AB 2040, authored by Assemblyman Roy Ashburn (R-Bakersfield), called for the state Department of Health Services to "work out a 10-year repayment plan." The bill "originally sought to forgive part or all of the debts." According to Ashburn, the hospitals "are a vital link to health care for many low-income Kern County residents." Good Samaritan's Administrator Robert Orr said "his facility owes $3.5 million for mental health treatment of patients a few years ago." He said, "I haven't got $3.5 million. The best the department has offered us so far is a three-year repayment, and there's no way we could manage that." But Wilson reportedly claims that current law gives the hospitals more "options ... for negotiating with the department." Orr said "he will keep trying" (Pollard, 9/28).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.