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In a Sea of Legislation, Here’s Some to Watch For

California’s nine-month legislative session will take its summer recess in mid-July and rev back up in mid-August for what will be a frenetic final four weeks to send bills to the Governor’s desk. CHA has been tracking hundreds of health care-related bills, and actively working on dozens on behalf of hospitals and health systems.

You’ve heard much about our highest priorities at the moment — “surprise” billing, nurse staffing ratio penalties, and seismic compliance. In addition, there are a handful of other bills making their way through the process — some hold the promise to improve how we serve our patients and our communities, while others still need changes — that will likely have some impact on hospitals and could yield new requirements, including:

  • Maternal Health Equity: We support the goal of Senate Bill 464 (Mitchell, D-Los Angeles) to reduce racial disparities in maternal health by requiring health care facilities that provide perinatal care to implement an implicit bias training program. CHA’s sole request has been a technical change to exclude physicians from the hospital mandate because they aren’t our employees, and we can’t require them to participate. We’ve committed to working with Sen. Mitchell to resolve this issue in order to improve maternal health and reduce disparities for women of color.
  • Supplier Diversity: In pursuit of another important goal — supporting diversity — Assembly Bill 962 (Burke, D-Inglewood) would require hospitals to submit reports on the diversity of their suppliers. However, CHA is opposed because the bill only counts suppliers with over half their employees in California, ignoring the purchasing patterns of large multi-state systems and hospitals that manage costs by purchasing through national group purchasing organizations.
  • Compassionate Cannabis: SB 305 (Hueso, D-San Diego) would require hospitals to allow terminally ill patients to use cannabis in their facilities, while also allowing hospitals to restrict the manner in which it is stored and used. But this would place hospitals in direct conflict with federal law — where cannabis remains a Schedule 1 drug — and pose serious risks for hospitals, including the potential loss of Medicare/Medicaid reimbursement, loss of federal grants, and loss of federal, state, and private accreditation. CHA is pushing for an amendment to permit hospitals to allow patient use, rather than require them to.
  • Independent Contractors: AB 5 (Gonzalez, D-San Diego) would codify a state Supreme Court decision that sets a very difficult standard for California employers to show that a person qualifies as an “independent contractor” rather than an employee. At issue are physicians, who cannot be employed by hospitals in California due to the ban on corporate practice of medicine. But with this bill, physicians would be considered hospital employees, requiring payment of added benefits and taxes. CHA worked with a coalition to set a more realistic standard — and was successful in amending the bill to exclude physicians (among other types of employees). Advocacy for additional amendments continues.

As always, your CHA is on top of these and other bills, working to address important care objectives where we can while making these ideas practical and workable for hospitals as well.

– Carmela