San Jose Mayor Asks Lockyer To Review HCA’s Planned Closure of San Jose Medical Center
San Jose Mayor Ron Gonzales in a letter Tuesday asked Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) to determine whether HCA's decision to close San Jose Regional Medical Center would compromise the community's health and emergency medical care, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Gaura, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/6).
HCA announced that it would close the hospital by Dec. 9, partly because of higher costs resulting from lower Medicare and Medi-Cal reimbursements, new state seismic retrofit laws and new state nurse-to-patient ratio requirements (California Healthline, 10/4).
In the letter, Gonzales stated that SJMC's closure would create a "dire situation that threatens lives in our region," adding, "We believe that HCA has a special legal and social responsibility because SJMC is a quasi-public facility with a very long history in San Jose."
In addition, at the request of San Jose City Council member Cindy Chavez, Lockyer's office is conducting an informal review of the planned closure regarding possible antitrust violations, according to Tom Dresslar, a spokesperson for the attorney general.
Dresslar said that Lockyer would review Gonzales' letter, adding that "absent extraordinary circumstances, we have very limited jurisdiction when it comes to the closure of private hospitals."
SJMC spokesperson Leslie Kelsay said that Gonzales' description of SJMC as quasi-public because of its participation in Medi-Cal and Medicare was "a stretch." She said, "The mayor's trying to say that because we take state funding that somehow makes us a public enterprise, and it does not. This is a private facility, and we have complied with all the state requirements regarding notice to the community."
The San Jose City Council on Tuesday also voted unanimously to direct Gonzales to write a letter to HCA requesting that it keep SJMC open beyond Dec. 9. The city council will seek an appraisal of SJMC and try to determine whether the hospital could be designated as a historic site (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 10/6).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.