CHA Official: California’s Safety-Net Hospitals Are ‘at Risk’

California’s safety-net hospitals often do not have enough patients with private health coverage to offset the cost of treating a high percentage of low-income patients who are uninsured or covered by Medi-Cal, according to an official with the California Hospital Association, Capital Public Radio’s “KXJZ News” reports (Bartolone, “KXJZ News,” Capital Public Radio, 3/16).

Medi-Cal, the state’s Medicaid program, offers some of the lowest Medicaid reimbursement rates in the country, ranking 49th in the U.S. (California Healthline, 2/24).

CHA Official’s Comments

CHA spokesperson Jan Emerson-Shea said, “While Medi-Cal does provide some level of reimbursement to hospitals, we still lose significant amounts of money on every Medi-Cal patient we treat.”

In addition, Emerson-Shea said hospitals are facing increased financial pressure because of:

  • Payment cuts under the Affordable Care Act and sequestration;
  • Medi-Cal reimbursements cuts; and
  • Requirements to complete seismic retrofits and adopt electronic health record systems.

Emerson Shea added, “There are so many factors in our very rapidly changing health care landscape that I think the safety-net hospitals are certainly a group of facilities that are going to be at risk.”

Implications

Jerry Kominski, with the UCLA Center for Health Policy Research, said the financial challenges could lead to more hospital closures in low-income areas.

Kominski said the closure of safety-net facilities would mean that some low-income patients — even those who are insured — would “have further to go when they have an emergency, and that places more burden on populations that are already vulnerable” (“KXJZ News,” Capital Public Radio, 3/16

Source: California Healthline