Help for Hospitals?

There was a lighter day in Assembly Health Committee yesterday. One bill considered of note was AB 1383 (Jones) which would impose a fee on hospitals… and was supported by hospitals.
Twelve “yes” votes – and no “Nos” – followed testimony by hospital spokespeople who pledged their support of a “self-assessment” to help California hospitals in financial distress. Causing the distress is the reimbursement formula for MediCal programs, which falls far short of covering the cost of care. California ranks 50th of all states in MediCal reimbursement rates. Assemblyman Dave Jones (D), chair of the committee, told colleagues that California stood to lose a whopping $2 billion to $3 billion in federal matching funds if it failed to pony up its share. “We will be seeing more hospitals close, file for bankruptcy or threaten to close,” if the matching funds are not secured, Jones said. There was agreement all around.
The bill advanced to the Assembly Appropriations Committee with much of its language still to be worked out – but its need apparently never in doubt. Supporters noted that no other bill in the Legislature has the ability to drum up $2 billion to $3 billion in federal funds. It must pass by June 30 in order to meet a deadline to snare the 2009-2010 federal money.

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