Efforts to regulate health care district spending in California have stalled after lawmakers failed to take action on a bill (AB 2418) that would have required the taxpayer-funded organizations to spend more on community health programs, California Watch reports (Gollan, California Watch, 6/1).
Friday is the deadline for the Legislature to pass bills out of their house of origin (California Healthline, 5/31).
Some health care districts in the state have departed from their original mission to oversee hospitals. Currently, California has 73 health care districts, 43 of which still operate hospitals.
Some health care districts are spending more of their reserves on administrative and operating expenses, such as lawyer fees, election costs and lifetime health benefits for part-time board members.
Despite their spending practices, the mission statements of several health care districts still call for ensuring health services for residents (California Healthline, 4/12).
Details of AB 2418
AB 2418 -- co-sponsored by Assembly member Rich Gordon (D-Menlo Park) -- would have required health care districts to spend at least 95% of their annual tax revenue on community health programs and to file detailed financial reports with local oversight agencies.
Last week, lawmakers did not take action on the bill after some Assembly members said certain health care districts could not afford to comply with the bill's requirements. According to the Assembly Appropriations Committee, the requirements would have cost health care districts more than $100,000.
Gordon Plans To Introduce Similar Legislation Next Year
Gordon said he plans to introduce another bill in January 2013 that requires more "transparency" and "accountability" from health care districts.
He said he would consider ways to reduce the cost of regulations for health care districts.
Gordon noted that the delay in action gives lawmakers an opportunity to work on improving the bill. He said, "I remain concerned that health care districts, particularly those that are no longer running hospitals, should guarantee that tax dollars are being well spent" (California Watch, 6/1).