Bill Would Exempt Some Skilled Nursing Facilities From Cut

The Senate Committee on Health yesterday approved a measure to reverse some of the Medi-Cal provider rate cuts passed by the Legislature two years ago. It’s an urgency bill, which means it needs a two-thirds legislative vote to pass.

AB 900 by Assembly member Luis Alejo (D-Salinas) would reverse cuts to one specific type of health care facility — hospital-based, distinct-part skilled nursing facilities.

When it was first introduced at the start of the legislative session, Alejo’s bill dealt only with distinct-part SNF units, but the legislation was expanded at one point to include reversal of the entire 10% provider rate cut imposed by the Legislature in 2011. That version of the bill could not get past legislative leaders and it was amended back to its original, more narrow target.

This subset of skilled-nursing facilities was singled out because the cuts will affect them more than other Medi-Cal providers, according to Barbara Glaser, senior legislative advocate for for the California Hospital Association.

“In California, we have between 50 and 60 facilities deeply affected by this cut,” she said. These SNF units are different than the rest of the providers because the 10% cuts are based on 2008 rates, she said, bumping them up closer to 25% cuts.

“These facilities will not be able to withstand the 25% reduction for these facilities,” Glaser said.  

“Our seniors need your support and your help,” said Ken Underwood, CEO of Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital in Hollister. “Many of the 60 nursing homes affected by these drastic cuts are small, rural, agricultural-based, safety-net sole-community hospitals. AB 900 is critical for all of California.”

Underwood said facilities will close unless the cut is reversed.

“What is today a crisis could become catastrophic,” he said. “My budget numbers are already bleeding red, and we’re already paid 25% less than cost. … [We need to] keep seniors and disabled safe in the communities where they belong.”

AB 900 now heads to the Senate appropriations committee. The budget has already been approved and sent to the governor, so this would need to be amended into that package, if it can move quickly enough.

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Capitol Desk Medi-Cal