Over the past year, the state’s newly formed Office of Health Care Affordability has been convening and debating ways to meet the office’s legislated mission to reduce health care spending growth and ensure the delivery of high-quality, equitable care.
Already over the last couple of months, the office has put forth rules and regulations on data collection and market oversight that, despite significant input from CHA, do not factor in many of the challenges hospitals face today. In the coming months, the office is expected to release its first proposed statewide spending growth cap, which could apply for as many as five years. The first year will carry a non-enforceable growth target comparing 2024 to 2025. Starting in 2026, the target will be enforceable.
Early indications are that this annual health care spending growth target may be lower than 4% — far below the state’s historical health care spending trajectory and even below California’s gross state product growth, a goal that would jeopardize access to hospital services in many communities.
Accordingly, CHA is doubling down on our advocacy work around the Office of Health Care Affordability to make sure that both office board members and legislators understand the negative consequences if a spending growth target is set that does not account for the greater health needs of Californians or the external pressures facing health care providers.
Your voice — especially around how a growth target set too low will affect patients and access to care — will be needed in these efforts. Stay tuned for more information in January on how and when to reach out to policymakers.
In addition, CHA will be increasing engagement among other core stakeholders: provider groups, patient advocates, and others, as well as developing more advocacy materials and data analytics. An expanded Office of Health Care Affordability section on CHA’s website will serve as a clearinghouse for all OHCA information, including background documents, educational opportunities, advocacy materials, CHA letters, proposed regulations, and more.
At a time when hospital care is at its most vulnerable in decades, the Office of Health Care Affordability will be making decisions that will determine the degree to which Californians in various parts of the state can access life-saving health services. It will take a coordinated effort to ensure that the OHCA board — as well as state legislators — fully understand the ramifications of their decisions.