Friday, Ausugst 29, 2014End of Session
The Legislature officially adjourns its 2013-14 Legislative Session on Sunday, August 31; however, given the current bill load it is expected that they likely will conclude their session by late tonight (Friday, August 29).
Two keys bills to highlight include:
SB 1094 (Lara), sponsored by the California Attorney General (AG), would allow the AG to impose additional conditions on a nonprofit hospital transaction, after the approval has already been granted. After a tremendous advocacy effort by all of our members, our lobbying team, and the broader hospital community, SB 1094 passed with the minimum votes necessary of 41-27. As is often the case, members “added on” before the close of the day’s session; therefore, the final official vote count filed is 43-27. The vote count held at 37 for several calls (an overwhelming 37 calls for a vote for 2:30 minutes!), but ultimately Assemblymembers Mullin, Calderon, Bradford and Alejo went up on the bill. Assemblymembers Bloom and Salas are the two members who did not vote for the bill when it was on the floor for debate, but later added their support. Attached is the edited final vote count. The bill must return to the Senate for concurrence in Assembly amendments. However, we think that Senators who supported it earlier will likely vote for the measure again.
We now move our attention to the Governor’s office. We believe our concerns will resonate with the Governor, and former AG, in that the proposed unprecedented new power that this bill allows the AG would introduce an unacceptable level of uncertainty into hospital transactions, and have a chilling effect on the health care marketplace.
SB 1004 (Hernandez), which proposes the development of a palliative care benefit under the Medi-Cal program, passed the Assembly and the Senate concurred in Assembly amendments. This Alliance-supported bill is now on its way to the Governor.
For bills that reach the Governor’s desk, he has until September 30 to sign or veto bills.
Friday, August 22, 2014
Status of Key Bills
On Monday, SB 1094 (Lara)
was taken up on the Assembly Floor and failed passage by a large margin of 22-24 (with 33 members voting no or not voting). The bill was granted reconsideration. Sponsored by the California Attorney General (AG), this bill would allow the AG to impose additional conditions on a nonprofit hospital transaction, after the approval has already been granted. This unprecedented new power would introduce an unacceptable level of uncertainty into hospital transactions, and have a chilling effect on the health care marketplace. The hospital coalition has offered several rounds of amendments to address the various concerns of the AG and its supporters, but they have been rejected by the author and sponsor.
Yesterday, Senator Lara amended SB 1094 and the Assembly voted to accept the amendments today, Friday, August 22 – the legislative deadline for bills to be amended on the floor. These new amendments change the “look back” period that the AG has to amend an approved condition from 10 years to 5 years. This does not resolve the objection that the AG can unilaterally amend an agreement during this time - still creating uncertainty for five years that will make partner organizations and those who provide capital from being willing to rescue a failing hospital.
The amendments also allow hospitals 30 days to respond in writing to an allegation of misconduct. After that initial period, however, the AG is then free to unilaterally change conditions, or impose new ones. There is no legal due process, no evidence is considered, and no trier of fact is involved. In short, even with these amendments, hospitals are guilty until proven innocent.
As part of the hospital coalition opposing SB 1094, the Alliance will continue to meet with members of the Assembly to discuss these latest amendments and to explain our continued opposition. We expect that SB 1094 will be taken up for reconsideration early next week.
SB 1004 (Hernandez) – PENDING ASSEMBLY FLOOR. Supported by the Alliance, this bill adds a palliative care benefit under the Medi-Cal program that will be “cost neutral” to the general fund (to the extent practicable).
SB 1053 (Mitchell) – ENROLLED TO GOVERNOR. Opposed by the Alliance, this bill would expand in California state law the contraceptive health care coverage requirements, commonly referred to as the federal contraceptive mandate, under the federal Public Health Service Act, as amended by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The bill also does not conform to the federal definition of religious employer.
The Legislature has until next Sunday, August 31st, to conclude its business before the final recess of this legislative session.