Last Minute Amendments Can't Fix AB 975

Apr 01, 2013, 12:28 ET from California Hospital Association

Attack on Nonprofit Hospitals Threatens Implementation of Affordable Care Act

SACRAMENTO, Calif., April 1, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement is being issued by C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO, California Hospital Association:

The California Hospital Association (CHA) remains strongly opposed to Assembly Bill (AB) 975, which is scheduled for consideration on Tuesday April 2, 2013 by the state Assembly Health Committee. AB 975 replaces local control with a "guilty until proven innocent" burden on well-managed hospitals and impacts the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Significant opposition greeted AB 975 when it was introduced, so it was quickly overhauled. The bill initially imposed unrealistic levels of state-mandated charity care spending, regardless of local needs and the fact that no Californian is ever denied treatment at a hospital irrespective of their ability to pay.  The amended version is worse, targeting a nonprofit hospital's tax status with artificial standards.

Usually, bills are introduced with the goal of solving a problem or improving services people receive. AB 975 does the opposite. State law already requires nonprofit hospitals to invest every dollar they receive above expenses into community benefit programs.  Critically important services like cancer research and screening, trauma centers, emergency services, burn units, neonatal care, and training for health care professionals would be compromised, facing cutbacks or elimination.

Health care is going through a period of tremendous change and uncertainty as California implements the ACA.  Hospitals are working to ensure that there will be enough beds and an adequate supply of health care professionals to meet the demands of the millions of Californians who will, for the first time, acquire health care coverage under the ACA.   Additional state regulations on hospitals that could negatively impact the ACA are the last thing politicians should be proposing. 

AB 975 is a manufactured solution for which there is no problem. Communities served by nonprofit hospitals are benefiting, and that is why not a single local government supports AB 975. We continue to urge Governor Jerry Brown and the Legislature to focus on implementing the ACA and we are committed to working with them to ensure California's healthcare system continues to meet the needs of hard-working Californians.                                                          

SOURCE California Hospital Association