Senator Dahle’s bill aims to save rural hospitals 

Working to preserve vital emergency and acute-care services for California’s rural residents, Senator Brian Dahle introduced Senate Bill 1423 which would require Medi-Cal to pay the actual costs of providing outpatient services in designated critical access hospitals.

As it stands, the 37 critical access hospitals serving rural communities in California are not fully reimbursed for providing outpatient services to patients covered by Medi-Cal, meaning the hospitals lose money for every dollar spent on care for needy patients.

 “It’s disheartening to see that rural hospitals face the only options of either declaring bankruptcy or scaling back their services. We cannot continue to ignore the needs of millions of Californians who rely on these critical access hospitals. It’s time for us to do better and ensure that these facilities have the resources they need to provide quality care to those who need it most,” Dahle said.

Federal law recognizes the vital importance of hospitals, especially those that provide emergency care, in rural communities and allows them to be paid for Medicare services for the elderly and disabled based on actual costs.

Over the years, enrollment in Medi-Cal, which serves lower-income Californians, has increased dramatically, but reimbursements below the cost of care put small hospitals serving these patients in critical financial straits. SB 1423 changes that so these hospitals continue to be an indispensable part of our health care system for rural California.