Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties Urges Legislature to Spare All Seniors from Deep Medi-Cal Cuts

- Preserving Access to Hospital-Based Skilled-Nursing Care is Critical to State's Most Vulnerable Patients -

SAN DIEGO, Aug. 29, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- As the 2013 legislative session draws to a close, local hospital leaders are urging lawmakers to protect access to hospital-based skilled-nursing care by reversing draconian Medi-Cal cuts.  Earlier this month, the California Department of Health Care Services (DHCS) exempted rural hospitals from deep payment cuts and reduced reimbursement rates.

Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties (HASD&IC) leaders said that seniors throughout California deserve access to the most effective and efficient care, so the exemption should be expanded to include all hospitals.

"More than 30,000 patients a year are cared for in hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities in California," said HASD&IC's President and CEO, Steve Escoboza. "These are frail, elderly, disabled patients who require specialized and medically complex care that freestanding nursing facilities and other health care providers will not or cannot provide." 

In the last five years, approximately 40 hospital-based skilled nursing facilities in California (about one-third) have closed due to financial issues. "The recent closure of Palomar Continuing Care Center in our own region represents a loss of 96 beds, or nearly 12% of San Diego County's capacity to provide care for these most vulnerable patients," said Escoboza.

Medi-Cal beneficiaries make up nearly 80 percent of the patients receiving hospital-based skilled-nursing care in California. The already profound shortage of hospital-based skilled nursing beds in the San Diego region means there are virtually no options for medically fragile patients who become displaced because of the Medi-Cal cuts.

"Hospitals are working diligently to provide greater access to health care services through the Affordable Care Act, so cuts at this time are counter-productive to those goals and will add even more financial pressure to an already strained network of care," said Escoboza. "The provider community of San Diego and Imperial Counties is imploring the state legislature to preserve the Medi-Cal funding this critical safety net requires."

HASD&IC is part of a statewide bipartisan coalition supporting Assembly Bill (AB) 900, authored by Assemblymember Luis Alejo, (D – Salinas), which represents a partial solution to reverse some of the cuts.  The coalition includes labor, business, local government, non-profits and health care leaders including the City Council of Escondido, City of Poway, County of San Diego, Escondido Chamber of Commerce, Poway Chamber of Commerce, and the San Diego Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Hospitals in San Diego County providing distinct part hospital-based skilled nursing care that would be impacted by cuts to Medi-Cal include:  Edgemoor Hospital / DPSNF, Fallbrook Hospital, Sharp Chula Vista Medical Center, Sharp Coronado Hospital and Healthcare Center, Sharp Grossmont Hospital, and Pomerado Hospital.

AB 900, which is currently in the Senate Appropriations Committee Suspense File, may be considered on Friday August 30.  The bill has received unanimous bipartisan support. Not a single lawmaker has cast a 'no' vote on the bill during roll calls in both the Assembly and the Senate.

The Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties (HASD&IC) was established in 1956 and is a non-profit organization representing 35 hospitals and integrated health systems in the two-county area. Members range from small, rural hospitals to large, urban medical centers; include not-for-profits, district, investor-owned, university, and city/county/state/federal facilities; and represent nearly 8,400 licensed beds.

For more information about HASD&IC, please visit www.hasdic.org.

CONTACT: Steven A. Escoboza
858-614-0200
sescoboza@hasdic.org

SOURCE The Hospital Association of San Diego and Imperial Counties (HASD&IC)



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