Last week, I had the chance to meet with a group of public health leaders and hear firsthand about what’s on their minds.
Some of the issues raised were:
- Financial health of hospitals
- Concern about the impact of Madera Community Hospital’s closure and the possibility of others that could close
- Concern over Medi-Cal rates that don’t cover the cost of care
- Concern about the timeliness of health plan payments to hospitals
- MCO tax renewal
- Frustrations with the state’s lack of understanding about what is going on in hospitals and clinics
- Seismic regulations that must be entirely financed by hospitals when our hospitals are already amongst the safest buildings in the state
- Short and long-term impacts of $25/hour minimum wage for health care workers at time when hospitals are seeing double digit increases in the cost of pharmaceuticals (41%), supplies (19%) and labor (16%)
These are not new issues — they are same ones that Hospital Council has heard regularly from your hospitals. What’s different about these concerns is that they were not voiced by hospital leaders. The issues were brought up — organically — by over 10 county public health officials from across northern and central California. It’s becoming quite clear that these issues that have been top of mind for your hospitals are also on the minds of many others. And the concerns are coming from not just public health officials, but also patients, community organizations, as well as business and academic organizations.
The state — and its elected leaders, too — are starting to take notice. While the closure of Madera Community Hospital may have caught some leaders by surprise, it’s clear after last month’s announcement that they can no longer ignore the gravity of the crisis facing the state’s hospitals. Because without intervention — including an immediate lifeline of $1.5 billion for hospitals — this could be replicated in other parts of the state.
Hospitals throughout our region, our state, our nation are pillars of their communities. They are also barometers of the overall health of the communities they serve. Your hospitals go to great lengths to provide first-class health care, competitive wages, community benefits, and more. Now, more than ever, it’s imperative that we partner with the state to ensure ALL Californians can continue to have access to quality health care.