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Key Legislative Victories Mark 2022, But Significant Challenges Remain

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Despite the passage of multiple bills this year that will strengthen California hospitals’ ability to deliver care to all, a number of critical issues remain unresolved as the 2022 legislative session closed late last night. 

At midnight, the Legislature adjourned its 2022 session; while many bills must still be signed by the governor to become law, this list of priority legislative outcomes provides an early look at how the hospital field fared on its top issues for the year. 

Perhaps the most notable accomplishment was the passage of a bill that modernizes the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act by extending vital protections for access to care through a stepped approach to increased limits on non-economic damages. 

Other significant victories include: 

  • Helping secure more than $2 billion in state funding for workforce investments 
  • Defeating a bill that would have prohibited providers from entering into many forms of care arrangements (integrating or affiliating with one another) 
  • Securing improvements to the Office of Health Care Affordability based on an “all-in” principle that all segments of the health care system should be responsible for reducing the rate of cost growth 
  • Defeating a bill that would have created a standing presumption in the workers’ compensation system that an infectious disease, musculoskeletal injury, or respiratory disease arose out of work for any hospital worker involved in direct patient care 
  • Halting a budget proposal to mandate that hospitals use a set amount of their community benefits dollars on certain activities 

While these and other positive advancements in the service of patient care go a long way toward improving the health care environment in California, failure to secure reform to the 2030 seismic mandate — with its more than $100 billion price tag — means that hospitals face difficult decisions as expenses continue to rise and revenue growth remains low and insufficient. 

Without reform, hospitals that cannot achieve these standards will be forced to close, threatening access to care for millions of Californians. 

Another 2022 battle will return next year: improved reimbursement — Medi-Cal, Medicare, and private insurance — will be essential if hospitals are to preserve care for all, and the fight to increase Medi-Cal rates (frozen for more than a decade) will be front and center in 2023. 

We will update this report after the governor’s Sept. 30 signing deadline, followed by a report on all new laws that hospitals must comply with. 

For your association, the end of this year’s session means the start of strategic planning for 2023 — because the lives of Californians depend on hospitals, and hospitals depend on laws and policies that help them meet their mission of care.