“In war, you win or lose, live or die – and the difference is just an eyelash.” – Douglas MacArthur
Technically, there are 11 days left in California’s 2020 legislative session, though if you account for the rule that says bills must be in print for 72 hours, it’s really slightly over a week.
Negotiations on the top issues for the hospital field – a bill that would give the Attorney General authority over hospital affiliations, seismic reform, PPE mandates, workers’ compensation presumptions, and more – are happening in real time, and the political horse-trading is frenzied. We have spent the year positioning ourselves in anticipation of the finish.
All of this is occurring against a backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, raging wildfires, rolling blackouts, and record-high temperatures.
Haven’t heard any reports of frogs or locusts yet.
For 2020 policy making, this is crunch time, and while we continue to stand firm to shield hospitals from the worst of what’s being proposed, we also recognize the political realities in a state as progressive as California may mean a compromise on some of these issues.
If MacArthur is right, and the difference between winning and losing is an eyelash, there are scenarios where it may be more advantageous to take the best deal possible, rather than endure a close defeat and walk away with nothing.
There are, of course, lines that aren’t crossable, and every single decision point in this fast-paced process is approached with two primary questions in mind:
- What is in the best interests of California’s hospitals?
- What is realistic given the political climate and the expert read on every one of California’s 121 political leaders?
In the next 10 days, we will know the outcome of a dozen or so bills that we’ve been working on for the better part of a year.
Some will go in our direction. Others will not. Still more will end up somewhere in the middle.
Politics is not a zero-sum game, where there are always winners and losers, but rather degrees of success where we have to think about whether bad bills could have been worse; whether strong bills were politically viable in the first place; whether – on balance – the environment for hospitals to do their work has been improved or worsened this year.
This is the standard to which we hold fast – that while we may have to compromise on policy, we can never compromise on the principle that California’s hospitals must continue to be able to do the incredible work they do every day.