CEO Message

CEO Message: Amid COVID-19, SB 977 Threatens Health Care Partnerships

This week, California’s Senate will vote on a bill that would give the state Attorney General sweeping power to approve or reject vital business arrangements between hospitals and other health care providers.  

The bill is dangerous because it would vest unprecedented power and authority over these partnerships and relationships with a single office. That will inhibit the development of integrated delivery systems that can buoy financially challenged doctors, keep open hospitals that might otherwise shutter in rural communities and inner-city urban areas, and preserve access to care throughout California. 

Last week, the bill, SB 977, passed a Senate Appropriations Committee procedural step, leading to a floor vote Wednesday or Thursday. That’s where efforts to defeat the bill are now concentrated. In addition to legislators hearing directly from you, an advertorial in the Sacramento Bee is calling their attention to this issue, one that — if not resolved correctly — could limit efficiency and increase costs during a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has proven that systems of care are key to successfully addressing a crisis.   

Also, health care partnerships today are under the rigorous scrutiny of the Federal Trade Commission, and the Attorney General already has the authority to review sales of not-for-profit hospitals. This legislation would go well beyond federal regulation and existing state law, and expand the scope of the state Attorney General’s authority over the affiliation or sale of hospitals, physician practices, ambulatory surgery centers, imaging centers, diagnostic centers, labs, and more. 

Bottom line: this bill would give unprecedented decision-making authority to the Attorney General – and to that office alone – to determine the accessibility and availability of care in California. 

The Attorney General is the bill’s sponsor, so this is as much a political fight as it is a policy debate. That’s why our partners in opposing this legislation – the California Medical Association, the California Chamber of Commerce, and others – are also important. 

If the bill passes the Senate, it will be heard by the Assembly Health Committee in late July, another opportunity to demonstrate how this proposal threatens access to health care and raises costs.  

The COVID-19 pandemic has shown that strong partnerships among providers support an integrated, cooperative response to health care crises. And responding to a crisis is just one reason why we must continue to fight to preserve relationships that support hospitals in caring for all Californians in all ways. 

~ Carmela

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Regulations

CHA News Article

Ruling Requires Hospitals to Reveal Negotiated Rates
For CEOs, CFOs, COOs, government relations staff

A federal judge on Tuesday ruled that the Department of Health and Human Services can require hospitals to reveal the prices they negotiate with insurers. As required by the Hospital Price Transparency final rule – effective Jan. 1, 2021 – hospitals will be required to post gross charges, payer-specific negotiated rates, the de-identified minimum and maximum negotiated rates, and the cash discount price for all items and services on a website in a machine-readable format. In addition, the final rule requires posting of information for 300 “shoppable” services in a consumer-friendly manner.

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State Budget

CHA News Article

Governor, Legislature Reach Agreement on State Budget
For CEOs, CFOs, government relations staff

On Monday, the Governor and legislative leaders announced an agreement on a state budget plan that would avoid the deep cuts to health and human service programs the Governor had proposed in May. Legislators rejected the Governor’s proposed cuts to safety-net programs, stating the demand for these services is greater now than ever.  Notably, the budget agreement rejects an earlier proposal to cut certain Medi-Cal managed care payments that would have directly impacted hospitals, a cut CHA opposed (see CHA’s media statement issued yesterday). 

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Education

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Legal

CHA News Article

Multiple Lawsuits Challenge MICRA; Notify CHA if Aware of Others
For legal counsel

A Beverly Hills law firm recently filed at least five lawsuits against hospitals and other providers in California, challenging the constitutionality of the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act’s (MICRA’s) $250,000 pain-and-suffering damages cap and its limits on contingency attorneys’ fees applicable in medical malpractice cases. 

CHA News Article

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Revises Nondiscrimination Rule
For legal counsel

On June 12, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services finalized revisions to regulations implementing the nondiscrimination provision of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. The final rule makes the following changes: 

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Human Resources

CHA News Article

State Files Appeal in Validity of AB 51
For CEOs, in-house counsel, human resources executives

The state of California has filed an appeal to the Ninth Circuit in the case challenging the validity of Assembly Bill (AB) 51 (2019). AB 51 prohibits employers from requiring employees to sign a pre-dispute arbitration agreement as a condition of employment or continued employment. 

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Marketing & Public Relations

CHA News Article

CHA and Our Health California Win Three Aster Awards for Health Care Marketing

CHA and Our Health California (OHC), a digital community of more than 1 million hospital and health care supporters, recently took home three awards for digital content focused on both behavioral health and homelessness. The awards were won at the annual Aster Awards, an elite competition recognizing the nation’s most talented health care marketing professionals for excellence in advertising. 

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CMS News Roundup

CHA News Article

Updates for the Week of June 22
For finance & reimbursement, quality & patient safety, and post-acute care staff

The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services issued the following updates this week:

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Education

Publication

CHA Education Events

For more information about CHA education programs, visit www.calhospital.org/education.

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