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Seismic Extension Advances; Budget Deficit Forces Shift on Critical Access Hospitals

CHA’s efforts to secure an extension for California’s 2030 seismic mandate took another critical step forward on Tuesday, with the association’s sponsored bill (Senate Bill 1432) passing the Assembly Health Committee with a few minor, technical amendments on a 14-0 vote. 

The bill, which provides hospitals with up to eight additional years to comply with the 2030 seismic construction mandate, now heads to the Assembly Appropriations Committee. There, additional debate will take place over proposed amendments from the administration that would limit any extension to three years, and only allow extensions based on need. 

Those amendments would strip the effect of this bill to provide immediate time for your organizations to complete seismic renovations and every hospital voice must now be elevated to preserve the deadline extension as it stands today. 

If you haven’t already, now is the time to let your state representative know how important this extension is. Any hospital leader who has not responded to a recent alert to all California hospitals, should do so as soon as possible to urge your representatives in the Assembly to support this bill in its current form. CHA is also working to secure Assembly co-authors to show broad support for this policy change. As of this week, an additional 11 Assemblymembers have signed on as co-authors. 

Shifting gears, work to support California’s critical access hospitals — those serving communities located at least 35 miles from another medical facility — must take a different approach given the state’s multibillion-dollar deficit. 

A proposal to provide at-cost financing for critical access hospital (CAH) services was contingent on budget funding. With the final budget agreement announced this week, that solution was no longer viable, so CHA’s sponsored bill has been amended to create a technical advisory group under the Department of Health Care Services that will provide recommendations to the Legislature on how to stabilize rural and CAH services.  

That version of the bill passed out of the Assembly Health Committee on Tuesday on a 16-0 vote and is also headed to the Assembly Appropriations Committee.  

Of note at the federal level in support of rural and CAHs, CHA has sent a letter to the California congressional delegation urging members to cosponsor the Preserving Emergency Access in Key Sites (PEAKS) Act (H.R. 7931), which would protect critical access hospitals in rural, mountainous areas.  

As the Legislature gets ready to break for July and return in August for the final weeks of session this year, please continue to follow updates to these priorities and other notable legislation through CHA’s state bill tracker, and we will continue to keep you posted on any significant developments.