California governor, lawmakers reject hospitals' call for $1 billion in relief

California’s governor and key lawmakers have rejected a request from the state’s hospitals for $1 billion in immediate aid to offset losses related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The state’s budget deal, announced Monday, does not include the California Hospital Association’s request for $1 billion in the current budget year, which ends June 30, nor does it include its $3.1 billion request from the state’s share of a federal emergency waiver in next year’s budget, which begins July 1.

Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokeswoman for the hospital association, wrote in an email that there is likely to be a second round of budget talks in late July or August once tax receipts are full accounted for. This year’s tax deadline was pushed to July 15 because of the pandemic.

“While we are disappointed that our request wasn’t included in this first budget go-around, we are continuing our push for financial relief in anticipation of the next round of budget talks later this summer,” she said.

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s office did not immediately return a request for comment. In announcing the deal, Newsom’s office said the governor, Senate President pro Tempore Toni G. Atkins and Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon had to make hard choices to sustain critical services with much less.

The CHA had requested that Newsom dedicate $3.1 billion in the 2020-21 budget to support hospitals using a second Section 1115 Emergency Disaster Waiver request.

The budget does, however, protect the state’s Medicaid program, known as Medi-Cal, from cuts, a move that gained praise from the hospital association.

Without financial relief from the state, hospitals might have to continue to cut jobs and pay, CHA CEO Carmela Coyle said in a news release.

“Hospitals are essential to California’s economic recovery,” she said. “Schools and business cannot reopen, government services cannot operate, and people cannot return to work unless hospitals are open, staffed, and ready to care for those in need.”

The CHA estimates California’s more than 400 hospitals have collectively lost more than $10 billion from suspended surgeries and higher labor and supply costs amid the pandemic.


Tags: covid-19, pandemic

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