CEO Message

Budget Enters Final Stretch; Need Your Help Now

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As California’s political leaders head into critical weeks of budget negotiations this year, hospitals are in the thick of the conversation, with key state lawmakers sharing the concern about the growing crisis in access to care yet differing about the path to address the problem. 

We need your support. Your representatives in the Senate and the Assembly need to hear directly from you — within the next week — about the impact on patients and communities when a hospital closes or reduces services.  

CHA is pressing for a two-pronged approach: immediate financial assistance to stave off further reductions in hospital services and/or more closures, as well as Medi-Cal reimbursement increases to support hospital care for the long-term and help prevent the scenario communities currently face. 

On immediate financial relief, the state Senate, in its budget blueprint, is pushing for $400 million per year for each of the next four years. That’s an important marker as lawmakers debate a budget that is attempting to overcome a more than $31 billion deficit. No matter what, the preservation of hospital services must be at the top of the list when it comes to the state’s priorities. 

On longer-term Medi-Cal increases, the governor’s proposed revisions to his budget plan outline a path for sustainable, predictable revenue from a renewed managed care organization tax — revenue that he has suggested could be used to increase rates and mitigate current levels of underfunding (California today pays hospitals just 74 cents for every dollar it costs to care for Medi-Cal patients). 

These are the requests that CHA — with your help — will continue to advance with legislators as they hammer out the details of the final budget for this year.  

When a hospital reduces services or closes, care suffers and communities suffer. The people who rely on that hospital for care they can’t get elsewhere are left behind, without access to life-saving health services, and communities as a whole suffer. Hospitals are often the largest employers in their county or neighborhood. The loss of a hospital, or layoffs that result from service reductions, means a loss of tax revenue for local jurisdictions. It means that businesses that surround the hospital — restaurants, gas stations, dry cleaners, etc. — have fewer customers. It means that real estate becomes less valuable without a reliable local hub for health care and jobs. 

In short, the loss or erosion of hospital services can mean a downward spiral from which it is difficult if not impossible to recover. 

This is what we must guard against, and success will take all of your voices to carry this message to policymakers in Sacramento.