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Senate Committee Considers Healthcare Funding Bill

SVMHS President/CEO Sam Downing one of three people called on to testify

SACRAMENTO, CA, April 6, 2011:
Salinas Valley Memorial Healthcare System President/CEO Sam Downing testified at the State Capitol today in support of Assembly Bill 113, which would increase funding for all California District hospitals through intergovernmental transfers (IGTs). The Senate Health Committee took up the bill, which will provide District hospitals the opportunity to match federal funds and receive the maximum allowable payment under the Medicaid program.

Downing is president of the District Hospital Leadership Forum, which has been working with the State and other hospital stakeholders to ensure that this program will be implemented. Salinas Valley Memorial was one of three hospitals in the state that succeeded in obtaining IGT funds this year.

Also appearing before the Senate Health Committee today was Anne McLeod, Sr. Vice President/Finance for the California Hospital Association, as well as a representative of SEIU.

"For District hospitals, maximizing our reimbursement options is critical to continuing to serve our communities," Downing said. "Like many hospitals, we are severely underfunded for the services provided to Medi-Cal and uninsured patients." Last year, Salinas Valley Memorial provided $13 million in charity care to patients who could not afford to pay for their health care, and another $15 million in uncollectable accounts. For those patients covered by government programs such as Medi-Cal and Medicare, Salinas Valley Memorial was reimbursed approximately twenty cents on the dollar—receiving $103 million in payments for $536 million in billed charges.

AB 113 will provide for an equitable distribution of federal funds among all non-designated public hospitals that desire to participate. This program will bring needed funding at a time when hospitals are seeing increasingly more uninsured and underinsured patients. Senate Bill 90 addresses the provider fee and is the companion bill to AB 113. Both bills must pass in order for either program to be implemented.

AB 113 is sponsored by Assembly Member Bill Monning, Chair of the Assembly Committee on Health. Assembly Member Monning has been very supportive of Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital, and all District hospitals throughout the state in addressing the issues faced by California's District hospitals. "We are very fortunate to have his support," Downing said, "and I personally want to thank him for his efforts on all our behalf."

If the measure passes through remaining committees as expected, the bill should be on the Governor's desk a week from Friday.

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