CEO Message

Setting a Course for Seismic Policy

Last week, this message highlighted that hospitals and their staff would be available to all who might need them while the rest of us took a break for the long holiday weekend. And, of course, that’s exactly what happened when two major earthquakes struck the town of Ridgecrest in the span of just two days.

A Shining Example of National Ideals

While much of the nation prepares this week for the July 4 summer holiday, hospitals and their dedicated employees will continue their 24/7 work to care for any and all who need them, at any moment.

In California, the Independence Day weekend isn’t just a beginning-of-summer holiday — it also marks a few days of heightened risk at the start of a perilous fire season. One thing Californians have learned over the past several years of wildfires: hospitals and the people who work in them are ready, willing, and able to do what’s needed when disaster strikes.

Yes, there are the hospital emergency operations plans; the standards, regulations, and statutes; the staff training and education; and everything else hospitals do in case of an emergency. But there are also the people who dedicate themselves to their communities and their neighbors in need, no matter the strained circumstances or personal difficulty. 

Area Wage Index Battle Presses On

In a little more than a month, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) will issue a final rule of significant importance for California’s hospitals: a decision that could alter the way Medicare adjusts hospital payments for geographic differences in labor costs (known as the Area Wage Index).

Their proposal? Take money from hospitals in California with high wages to give to hospitals in states with lower wages. CMS suggests this is an effort to address longstanding inequities in the wage index and to help rural hospitals.  

In a Sea of Legislation, Here’s Some to Watch For

California’s nine-month legislative session will take its summer recess in mid-July and rev back up in mid-August for what will be a frenetic final four weeks to send bills to the Governor’s desk. CHA has been tracking hundreds of health care-related bills, and actively working on dozens on behalf of hospitals and health systems.

A Bullish Budget

On Thursday, the Legislature approved the first budget under this new Governor — a nearly $214 billion spending plan that makes significant investments in the new Governor’s top priorities, including health care (we anticipate the trailer bill related to health care will be approved later in the month).

One of the key takeaways from Newsom’s first budget negotiation effort is that he is clearly disposed to use the budget — his most powerful tool as Governor — in a proactive and impactful way to advance his health care goals.

Facts Matter on Staffing Ratios

This year marks the 15th anniversary of the implementation of nurse staffing ratios in California. Unsurprisingly, coordinated and cohesive labor interests are pushing to enhance the penalties for infractions and expand oversight for staffing ratio compliance.

Their claim is that increased penalties — an additional $30,000 for the first infraction (even with zero threat of patient harm) and $60,000 (again, with zero threat of patient harm) for subsequent infractions — will improve patient safety.

You all know better.

Budget Bliss: Health Care at the Forefront

California’s $213 billion annual budget is something of a litmus test. Its value hinges greatly on one’s point of view, and depending on how you look at things, you can find plenty to be pleased with and plenty to be upset about.

In the latest iteration of Gov. Newsom’s spending plan, released earlier this month, health care leaders should find much to be happy about. Newsom makes significant new investments in care — hundreds of millions of dollars for priorities shared by hospitals. Among his noteworthy allocations:

Protecting Patients, Avoiding Rate Setting

Over the past several weeks, as the 2019 legislative session has kicked into high gear and the political realities for some of our top priorities have become clear, we’ve begun to hone our positions on hot-button issues.