Lawmakers Consider New Hospital Penalties for Patient Dumping
The Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday will reconsider a bill (SB 275) by Sen. Gil Cedillo (D-Los Angeles) that would prohibit hospitals from transporting a discharged patient to a location other than the patient's residence without informed consent, the Sacramento Bee reports.
Under the measure, hospital administrators could be subject to a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $2,000 and up to one year in jail. Hospitals also would face a fine of up to $10,000.
The legislation was prompted by allegations of patient dumping in the Skid Row neighborhood of Los Angeles. Authorities in recent years have recorded 55 patient dumping incidents in Skid Row.
The committee last week voted against the measure after several lawmakers voiced concern that criminalizing patient dumping could force hospitals to close.
Barbara Glaser, a lobbyist for the California Hospital Association, said, "Should a hospital be convicted of this misdemeanor, the federal government ... will have to exclude the hospital from Medicare and Medi-Cal for five years." Glaser added that the legislation "does nothing for homeless patients."
Cedillo contends that there is no documented evidence that any hospital in the U.S. has closed after being charged with a misdemeanor (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 6/26).