CEO Message

Seismic Relief Bill in Print, Headed to Committees

Last week, the language for a legislative proposal — Senate Bill (SB) 1432 — that would bring much-needed relief to hospitals from current seismic building standards went into print. This was the next step toward ensuring that communities throughout California don’t lose access to care.  

Under current law, by Jan. 1, 2030, all hospitals that are not compliant with standards that say every hospital building in which patient care is provided must be “fully operational” following an earthquake will be forced to close. This 2030 mandate follows a 2020 standard that virtually all hospitals have spent billions to meet and ensures hospitals will stand after an earthquake, making them among the safest buildings in the state.  

The price tag for the 2030 standard: upward of $160 billion, without including financing costs, which would drive the number well north of $200 billion. At a time when more than 50% of hospitals are losing money every day to care for patients, this is simply unattainable.  

SB 1432, authored by a bipartisan group of senators — Anna Caballero (D-Merced), Bill Dodd (D–Napa), Susan Eggman (D-Stockton), Josh Newman (D-Fullerton), Marie Alvarado-Gil (D-Jackson), Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield), and Josh Becker (D-Menlo Park) — aims to provide relief in several ways: 

  • Eight more years to comply with 2030 requirements for all hospitals   
  • Reporting to the Legislature by government agencies with analysis of the cost impacts of seismic compliance, including the impact on meeting spending growth targets set by the Office of Health Care Affordability, as well as the impact of the current law on access to health care services 
  • Additional disaster planning requirements for hospitals    

Without the time that this bill provides, access to vital health services is at risk throughout California. SB 1432 also would require the state to fully understand the cost of the 2030 mandate and analyze its impact on patient care. With nearly all hospitals already structurally safe during an earthquake, we must turn our attention to ensuring that hospitals can remain open to meet the continued and growing need for critical health services. 

Finally, this bill would require the state to understand how the mandate would affect health care costs, as hospitals continue to work with state regulators on efforts to hold health care costs in check. That means the state must consider the impact tens of billions in infrastructure spending will have on this effort.  

With hearings on this bill coming up, the best way hospitals can support advocacy efforts is to get involved through CHA’s seismic community outreach program, and stay tuned for additional opportunities to share your story and perspective with key policymakers. An alert sent on March 26 asking hospital leaders to urge the Senate Health Committee to support the bill — and ask community partners to conduct similar outreach — is an important early step to take to ensure your voice is heard during this critical debate.