California Hospitals Implore Legislators to Protect Seniors by Reversing Medi-Cal Cuts

AB 900 Placed on Suspense by Senate Appropriations Committee

SACRAMENTO, Calif., Aug. 12, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement is being issued by C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO, California Hospital Association:

California's seniors deserve the best possible care, including access to hospital-based skilled- nursing facilities.  These services are being threatened, however, by looming Medi-Cal cuts.  Today's action by the Senate Appropriations Committee to put Assembly Bill 900 (Alejo, D-Salinas) on the Suspense File, while expected, endangers frail and elderly Medi-Cal patients who are being cared for in these specialized hospital units.

California's health care safety net has been shredded by years of Medi-Cal underfunding.  Now, even deeper cuts are on the horizon as the result of legislative action taken two years ago, when California was facing a severe budget crisis.   The fiscal environment is much different today – with California's economy rebounding and the state's financial coffers healthy again. 

The California Hospital Association (CHA) implores legislative leaders to reverse these cuts. Although AB 900 is only a partial solution to the Medi-Cal payment crisis, it provides limited relief to hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities.  The patients being cared for in these facilities typically require specialized, medically complex care that freestanding nursing homes and other health care providers will not or cannot provide.

Hospitals already are closing or cutting back in anticipation of the looming cuts.  The 96-bed Palomar Continuing Care Center in San Diego County will close this fall, in great part due to the payment reductions.  Mayers Memorial Hospital in Shasta County and Eastern Plumas Health Care in Plumas County have both halted new patient admissions. In Fresno County, Coalinga Regional Medical Center is considering options for closure. In San Benito County, Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital also is making potential plans to shut down a 70-bed facility. The 116-bed Seton Coastside hospital, which provides the only hospital-based skilled-nursing beds in San Mateo County, is facing drastic cutbacks. And in San Francisco, 400-bed Jewish Home and 780-bed Laguna Honda Hospital are both scaling back services.

AB 900 passed the Assembly by a 76-0 vote in late May; and in June the bill passed the Senate Health Committee by an 8-0 vote.  Not a single "no" vote has been cast against AB 900.

SOURCE California Hospital Association