Seven months into the year, and despite the many challenges and triumphs of California’s hospitals during the COVID-19 pandemic, seismic regulatory reform remains a priority.
The 2030 deadline for full compliance with seismic building regulations remains in place, a requirement that comes with a more than $100 billion price tag at a time when hospitals are facing unprecedented and uncertain financial times.
Now, it’s more important than ever that these regulations be revised, not only because of the fiscal savings to California’s health care system, but also because — as COVID-19 has taught us — disasters come in many forms, and a modern approach to readiness is necessary for the state to be prepared.
To that end, CHA’s sponsored bill, SB 758 (Portantino, D-La Cañada Flintridge), has been amended to extend the 2030 hospital seismic deadline to 2037 and create an advisory committee to examine how California’s health care delivery system prepares and responds to disasters of all kinds.
Earlier this week, we asked hospitals to lend their voices and share with the Assembly Health Committee — where the bill will soon be heard — how this requirement could impact your ability to care for patients and communities, especially given the new obstacles brought by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Those obstacles are significant. A CHA-commissioned study by Kaufman Hall, a national, independent consulting firm with extensive health care finance expertise, has found that the COVID-19 pandemic is likely to lead to long-term changes to financial stability and care delivery in California hospitals. From the study:
“… with a total cost of compliance reaching as high as $143 billion …— not including the costs of financing — hospitals will be unable to move forward without confidence in their future operating performance and their ability to secure financing on reasonable terms. Both prerequisites to compliance are now under threat as a result of COVID-19 …The financial damage hospitals have experienced may well be permanent.”
This legislation is scheduled to be heard in Assembly Health Committee Aug. 4. Now is the time to step up and share your seismic story with your senators and assemblymembers.
As we collectively start to process the lessons learned from this pandemic, it’s clear that at least one will emerge: California’s health care response system can be greatly improved. Delaying the seismic requirement and creating a task force that will offer a holistic approach to emergency response are key to making sure hospitals will always be able to keep their doors open, whatever disaster may come.