Hospital Fee Is One Step Closer to Law

by David Gorn

TOPIC ALERT:

The Assembly Committee on Health yesterday approved a bill designed to offset Medi-Cal costs for hospitals.

SB 239 by Sen. Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) extends the Medi-Cal quality assurance fee for hospitals for an additional two years.

"This bill would create a two-year fee program that would provide supplemental Medi-Cal payment to hospitals, to help reduce that annual loss of about $5 billion a year, from treating Medi-Cal patients," said Anne McLeod, senior vice president of health policy at the California Hospital Association.

"The program would raise about $8 billion in fees, paid by the hospitals, of which about $1.3 billion would be provided to the state to help fund the cost of children's health care coverage," McLeod said. "The remaining funds would be used to provide direct grants to public hospitals and to draw down federal matching funds of about $6.5 billion in California."

This funding comes at a good time for hospitals, said Assembly member and committee co-chair Dan Logue (R-Linda).

"This is going to be a lifesaver for hospitals in California," Logue said, "particularly in rural areas."

From the state's point of view, Hernandez said, it's beneficial in two important fiscal ways.

"This bill will provide additional funds for our hospitals without having to tap into our general fund," Hernandez said, because the money will be matched with federal dollars.

The state saves on its Medi-Cal costs, as well, according to Hernandez. "The bill will draw down funds for [Medi-Cal] children's programs, which will offset general fund expenditures," Hernandez said. 

SB 239 passed on a 16-0 vote. It now heads to Assembly Appropriations.

Clark Norwood
Carol it may be a tired argument but that is only because it is still a problem that no one wants to address. The cost to the state is still in the billions each and every year. If you can live with that fine, I still know it's a problem that needs to be acknowledged and worked on, it's not fine with me. It's not the only solution to the problem but it would go a long way to help.
Carol Frandsen
Of course, blame it all on illegal immigrants. What a tired argument.
Clark Norwood
This sounds like another "Steal from Peter to Pay Paul" plan. By taking "hospital quality assurance fees" from certain general acute care hospitals, and give the "fees" to other hospitals via a Hospital Quality Assurance Revenue Fund you decrease the working capital from the hospitals selected to cough up the fees. What happens when you decrease the amount of money you have to operate any enterprise, that's right quality goes down or services are eliminated because, you guessed it, there isn't enough money anymore. What will the overhead cost of the Quality Assurance Revenue Fund, how much of the fund will be eaten up with the cost of running it? How much of this new money will be diverted(stolen) to help fund some legislator's pet project? Instead let's look at reducing costs, like eliminating all non emergency services for illegal immigrants. I know this makes me the BAD guy on this issue but I've been there before.

to share your thoughts on this article.