As Sacramento shifts into its August overdrive this week, three key health care reforms have been attracting fierce lobbying attacks by business interests and the hospital and health insurance industries, to keep them from advancing out of the Senate Appropriations Committee for floor votes. August 31 is the deadline for the full Assembly and state Senate to pass any bills destined for the governor’s desk.
AB 1522, known unofficially as the Healthy Workplaces, Healthy Families Act, was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego) with the support of the California Labor Federation. It would make California, after Connecticut, the second state to require employers to provide paid sick leave for all of its workers. (The California Labor Federation is a financial supporter of Capital & Main.)
AB 503, the proposed hospital charity care law, introduced by Assemblymen Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Rob Bonta (D-Oakland),
Every year Los Angeles’ Cedars-Sinai Medical Center releases a glossy brochure called Report to the Community. Among the doctor profiles and research-breakthrough stories are several dry metrics dealing with the number of beds, total patient and outpatient days and, perhaps most impressively, the year’s dollar value for something called “community benefit contributions.”
Cedars, which is the state’s third highest-earning nonprofit hospital, claimed $640.3 million as its 2012 community benefit contribution.
This number turns out to be the real point of the report. Because under state law all not-for-profit hospitals must justify their continuing tax exemption as charitable institutions by demonstrating that they are providing a community benefit — free charity care to indigent patients and what California calls “activities that are intended to address community needs and priorities primarily through disease prevention and improvement of health status.”
Whether Cedars and California’s other nonprofit hospitals have been living up to that charitable obligation is a question that Assembly Bill 503,