As COVID-19 trudges along in its third year, the daunting financial pressures facing hospitals have created perhaps the greatest challenge for health care leaders in memory.
At its core, this challenge is about how to navigate a new reality filled with questions.
How can hospitals adapt and overcome when there is — all at once — immense pressure to keep costs down, increase salaries for health care workers to reinforce thinned ranks, invest to expand services like behavioral health care, maintain high quality standards, and advance new ways to deliver care outside the hospital walls?
California is not unique in this way. The enormity of the obstacles that lie ahead is a common theme among hospital leaders at conversations throughout the nation. And that is exactly why it’s so important that legislators and regulators understand that if hospitals are to remain pillars of care and benefit in their communities, they need a stable, predictable, and fair environment in which to operate.
This year in the California Legislature, two bills that would have created a more inhospitable and less-stable environment were defeated:
- Legislation that would have created a presumption in the workers’ compensation system that a variety of conditions arose at work for any hospital direct patient care worker and extended indefinitely a presumption for COVID-19.
- Legislation that would have expanded the authority of the attorney general to prohibit health care providers and payers from entering into many care delivery arrangements and impose expensive and unpredictable conditions on health care providers and payers that seek to partner.
CHA opposed both these bills, which would have been disruptive and expensive. With your indispensable help in sharing your views with key legislators, we were successful in defeating them.
The fight continues. At the federal level, we will be asking for your help to support the American Hospital Association’s efforts to boost a meager and inadequate inpatient payment proposal (stay tuned for an alert next week), and we continue to press for reform on the state’s 2030 seismic standards, where the $100 billion cost projected just a few years ago has skyrocketed due to inflation and materials shortfalls.
For now, these 2022 legislative wins represent a reprieve from the obstacles that continue to rise, and the work of CHA continues every day to drive home for policymakers the depth of the challenges you face.