L.A. Mobile Clinic Key Example Of Community Benefit Programs Threatened By AB 975

Statewide Coalition Releases New Online Video Demonstrating Impact of Politically-Motivated Bill

May 21, 2013, 16:15 ET from California Hospital Association

SACRAMENTO, Calif., May 21, 2013 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- In a new online video released today, the California Hospital Association (CHA) profiled an innovative mobile medical clinic program in Los Angeles County that would be jeopardized by the passage of Assembly Bill (AB) 975, a costly and unnecessary rewrite of the state's community benefit requirements for nonprofit hospitals.

"I would say this is a quintessential community benefit program," said Glenn Lopez , M.D., referring to his 34-foot "clinic-on-wheels" that serves communities throughout the San Fernando Valley five nights a week.

Dr. Lopez is program director of the mobile clinic, now in its fourth year, which is funded as a community benefit by Providence Health & Services – Southern California.  The clinic primarily serves those who have no insurance or are underinsured.  The goal is to bring affordable health care directly into the community and engage in proactive, preventive treatment in order to reduce costly visits to hospital emergency rooms.

The program has worked, according to Dr. Lopez, by significantly reducing emergency room repeat visits.   In its first two years, 21 percent of the patients served were referred by Providence emergency rooms.  None of those patients paid a return visit to those E.R.s.

"It's made a big difference," Pacoima resident Rosalva Hernandez said, referring to the treatment her mother has gotten for diabetes and high blood pressure.  "When we started, her medical condition was horrible. Now that we're coming here, she's doing a lot better."

Programs like the mobile clinic, although effective, are threatened by AB 975 (Wieckowski, D-Fremont), according to CHA. The bill, which is currently on the Suspense File in the Assembly Appropriations Committee, would impose vague and unrealistic standards on nonprofit hospitals, and would compromise their ability to meet local health care needs.  Currently, nonprofit hospitals collaborate with local communities to implement tailored community benefit programs that meet identified needs. 

AB 975 would instead require hospitals to address every identified health need in the community and would saddle health care providers with a costly and burdensome thicket of new rules and regulations.

State law currently requires nonprofit hospitals to meet specific requirements for their tax-exempt status. Community benefit plans, which include charity care investments, must be updated every year and are available for inspection at the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD).  According to OSHPD's analysis, compliance with AB 975 would cost the state millions of dollars. 

"California's current law is the model for the federal Affordable Care Act's (ACA's) community benefit and charity care guidelines," said CHA President/CEO C. Duane Dauner.  "AB 975 would put California in conflict with the new federal law and would compromise hospitals' ability to meet local health care needs.  Mistakes like those included in AB 975 severely compromise a nonprofit hospital's ability to expand services and meet the needs of its community."

The mobile clinic program sponsored by Providence Health & Services – Southern California  is featured in a new online video released by Caring is our Calling, a project sponsored by CHA to demonstrate the real-world impacts of AB 975.  In addition to CHA, coalition members opposed to the bill include Adventist Health, Alliance of Catholic Health Care, California Chamber of Commerce, California Medical Association, Enloe Medical Center, Kaiser Permanente, Memorial Care Health System, Scripps Health, Orange County Medical Association and SEIU-UHW. 

To watch the video or to learn more please click here.

SOURCE California Hospital Association