CEO Message

A Target on the Back of California’s Hospitals

A little more than a week ago, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a proposed rule that would reconfigure the calculations for the Medicare area wage index.

The area wage index is essential to ensure that hospitals’ resources for patient care reflect geographic disparities in labor costs. This is a particular concern for California’s hospitals given our state’s high labor costs (as an example, California pays the highest nurse salaries in the nation).

Early Check-In on the Long Legislative Slog

Today marks the deadline for committees in the state Legislature to move bills that have a financial impact to the appropriate fiscal committees. Or, if you’re a baseball fan, we’re in roughly the third inning of this 2019 advocacy game.

Assessing where we stand at this point on the hottest issues, there are some promising developments, but also several dangerous bills that will be a fight to the end to stave off. To recap where things stand on several priority matters:

Standing Strong to Care for Patients

We all know that hospitals are more than just buildings, but sometimes the bricks and mortar matter — and hospital leaders know better than anyone that our buildings are among the safest in the world.

Since the 1992 Northridge earthquake, you’ve invested billions to meet world-class seismic safety requirements. As a result, communities across the state can rest assured that every patient, employee, and visitor in a hospital will be safe when the next earthquake strikes.

California Goes to Washington

Earlier this week, nearly 50 of California’s hospital and health system leaders trekked almost 3,000 miles to Washington, D.C. Their purpose: to share with members of Congress the legislative changes they need to successfully meet their mission of care back home.

It was an impressive showing for this year’s joint advocacy program, hosted by your California Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association. I am grateful to have been able to spend time with John Muir Health President & CEO Cal Knight, CHA’s Board Chair, along with Stanford Health Care President and CEO David Entwistle, and Alameda Health System CEO Delvecchio Finley, California’s representatives on AHA’s Board of Trustees.

The Challenge of Our Day

Across the nation, the headlines are bold. 

From patients going bankrupt due to unexpected medical bills to the news that one in seven patients is burdened by surprise bills.

Daily, these stories keep at the forefront a disparity issue of growing proportion: how to ensure that health care is available, of the highest possible quality, yet affordable for the tens of millions of people who struggle with everyday expenses, let alone the costs of unexpected health needs. Clinical advances, technology, drugs, and more allow us to save lives and perform health care miracles every day, but these accomplishments are increasingly unaffordable for the average person.

The health care affordability conversation is not only dominating the media, but also the Capitol building in Sacramento and the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C.

Hospitals are front and center in this debate.