Fires. Floods. Mass shootings. Earthquakes.
Through every tragedy, hospitals have been there to aid the sick and the injured. They’re open 24/7/365 — often the first stop for someone who is ill or the last stop for those who have not received the care they need.
If COVID-19 has done anything, it’s shone the spotlight on the fact that hospitals intrinsically put others first. Their workers are selfless, compassionate, devoted. Their doors are wide open to all who need help. But now, more than a year into the pandemic, it’s the hospitals that need help.
The financial impact from COVID-19 on California hospitals is real — and it will be felt in both the short and long term. Hospitals losses in 2020 are projected to be more than $14 billion and they have received just under $8.6 billion from the Provider Relief Fund. To date, no money has been received from the state of California.
While hospitals always take care of patients first and worry about the finances later, eventually the checking account won’t balance. With the state expecting a record budget surplus, and little money coming from the recently passed American Rescue Plan, hospital finances must be top of mind for elected officials as they ponder a post-pandemic California.
To that end, Hospital Council and CHA continue proactive advocacy on legislative and regulatory reforms critical to hospitals at all levels of government. At the same time, hospitals need to be active and engage with elected government officials — local, state, and federal — to tell their stories.
Of immediate concern to hospitals is H.R. 1868, which delays drastic cuts in Medicare payments. Congress has delayed this 2% sequester of Medicare payments in previous COVID-19 relief legislation, but the current delay will expire on March 31. If approved by the Senate, H.R. 1868 would prevent sequestration through the end of the year. Eliminating these cuts would provide critical financial assistance to hospitals and health systems on the front lines of the pandemic.
Now, as we turn the corner on the pandemic, hospitals are looking toward the future — but it’s a future filled with uncertainty. To ensure that hospitals can continue their mission of care, we must work together to be there with the staff, resources, and technology needed for all Californians.