Our Partner SNI

Facing Financial Crisis, California’s Public Health Care Systems Ask Lawmakers to Pass AB 1894

OAKLAND, CA, February 9, 2022 – Today, Assemblymember Luz Rivas (D-San Fernando Valley) introduced AB 1894, legislation that would create an important process to strengthen public health care system financing and ensure continued access to high quality, value-based care for more than 3.7 million patients served each year. AB 1894 is co-sponsored by the California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH) and SEIU California.

Though they represent just six percent of all hospitals in the state, California’s 21 public health care systems – which include county-operated or affiliated systems and the five University of California medical centers – play an outsized and essential role in the state’s health care delivery system.  Some examples:

  • 40% of all hospital care to the State’s remaining uninsured is provided by PHS in the communities they serve
  • 7 million patients are served annually
  • 10 million outpatient visits are provided annually
  • 60% of PHS patients identify as persons of color
  • 98 languages are offered through translation services
  • 85,000 individuals are employed at PHS across the state

“Public health care systems are the backbone of care delivery to the Medi-Cal population in California, serving more than one-third of Medi-Cal beneficiaries in our communities across the state,” said Erica Murray, President and CEO, California Association of Public Hospitals and Health Systems (CAPH).

“California’s public hospitals are quite literally the lifeline families count on in times of health crisis, particularly in our Black and Brown communities,” said Bob Schoonover, President of SEIU California and Executive Director of SEIU Local 721. “85,000 healthcare heroes make healing happen in public hospitals; SEIU calls on lawmakers to join in our life-saving, equity-focused mission to prevent financial crisis from closing the doors of our public hospitals to people and families who need them the most.”

“Despite significant state investments in Medi-Cal, public health care systems are facing a financial crisis,” said Murray. “Without additional state investment over the next few years, public health care systems could be forced to significantly reduce services.”

AB 1894 would require the Department of Health Care Services to work with California’s public health care systems on financing strategies to strengthen long-term finances, enabling them to maintain their critical safety net roles. An advisory group would help inform the department in developing long-term financing strategies to support these systems. A report would be shared with the Legislature by July 1, 2023, outlining financial challenges of PHS and make policy and financing recommendations to address the mounting financial losses.

“Given the severity of the fiscal concerns and the vital role these systems play in the state’s safety net, the time for action is now,” said Murray. “We thank Assemblymember Rivas for her leadership and look forward to working with the Governor, the Legislature, DHCS, and stakeholders to identify potential solutions that improve care delivery and quality and maintain critical access to care for millions of Californians.”