SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 14, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The following statement is being issued by C. Duane Dauner, President/CEO, California Hospital Association:
Governor Jerry Brown will be issuing his May Revision to the state budget today, making this a day to focus on important and substantive fiscal and policy issues. Instead, the California Nurses Association is focused on two flawed measures, AB 975 and SB 718, which needlessly attack hospitals while also threatening successful implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
AB 975 is opposed by a statewide bipartisan coalition of organizations, including SEIU-UHW, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Hospital Association, California Association of Physician Groups and community organizations including Boys & Girls Club of Sacramento, Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach, WEAVE, Inc. and the Humboldt County Community Alliance with Family Farmers, to name a few.
The nurses' union has been trying for months to find a justification to keep the bill alive, publicly using words like transparency and accountability. Today's press conference is politics as usual. The union's desperate attempt to grandstand on the unrelated issue of hospital charges cannot obscure the fact that nonprofit hospitals today are providing hundreds of millions of dollars in community care like cancer research, diabetes screening, children's health care and burn units that have saved firefighters' lives. Nonprofit hospitals must reinvest every dollar above expenses into the local community – investments that could be threatened by AB 975.
Current state laws hold nonprofit hospitals accountable to ensure that they operate under specified requirements to receive tax-exempt status. The law also already requires full transparency by nonprofit hospitals. Community benefit plans, which include charity care investments, must be updated every year to ensure they address issues in real time. These plans are public documents and are available for inspection at the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD) – www.oshpd.ca.gov.
The California State Auditor last year released a report affirming that nonprofit hospitals are complying with all federal and state laws regarding tax-exempt status. The nurses' union, however, has been misrepresenting this report, which did not call for any changes to current law, absent legislative prerogative.
California's current law is the model for the ACA's community benefit and charity care guidelines. AB 975 would compromise hospitals' ability to meet local health care needs and, according to OSHPD, compliance would cost the state millions of dollars. Mistakes like those included in AB 975 severely compromise a nonprofit hospital's ability to expand services and meet the needs of its community.
Similarly, SB 718 is another bill that is unnecessary, costly and counterproductive. California hospitals take seriously their duty to provide a safe, healthy environment for patients and staff. SB 718 would require duplicative and redundant processes that will be time consuming and expensive, without accomplishing any measurable results. Moreover, where the bill exceeds existing requirements, it imposes burdensome and unfunded mandates on all hospitals.
Starting next January, at least four million Californians may be able to obtain health care coverage for the first time, meaning significant new demands for health care services. Hospitals are facing the challenge of ensuring there are enough beds and services, and health care professionals, to meet this demand. AB 975 and SB 718 should be defeated so that California can focus on the real work of implementing the ACA, not playing politics with people's health care.
SOURCE California Hospital Association