BRIAN DAHLE OP-ED:
Rural Healthcare Crisis Can Be Avoided
I need your help. Our hospitals are in trouble. In 2011, the state budget agreement reduced Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for hospital-based skilled nursing facilities. The budget bill also made these cuts retroactive to June 1, 2011. These cuts are already law. They were passed before I was elected to the legislature.
The Governor and the State Department of Health Care Services has the authority to modify these cuts. We need to make our voices heard to make sure they do not bankrupt our hospitals in Plumas, Lassen, Sierra, Nevada and Modoc Counties. I am working with my colleagues in the legislature to take action to rescind these cuts and to restore reimbursement to fair levels that will keep our small rural hospitals in business. Please support our local hospitals and communities by taking a stand against these ill-advised cuts to our hospitals.
In our rural district, the impact could be severe. Such Medi-Cal rate reductions may force rural hospitals to close wings that provide nursing-home care to our most frail elderly, or even worse, close the entire hospital altogether.
Patients and elderly residents will be forced to move, in some cases to facilities far away from family or to care settings that may not be adequate to meet their health care needs. Many healthcare providers already lose money providing services for people who are covered by Medi-Cal. Sadly, this misguided move by the state will end up costing the California government more money because the hospitals in our area charge less to provide services to these people than what it will ultimately cost to transfer individuals to service areas with even greater costs.
In many rural communities, the skilled nursing facility or nursing home is an integral part of the community health care system. Without a place to care for people outside an emergency room setting, the hospital infrastructure will fall apart. Significant reductions to skilled nursing facilities will undermine the financial viability of the entire hospital and will result in hospital closures and reductions in available services. That means lay-offs and dangerous delays in getting people emergency services.
Hospitals play a vital role in maintaining an acceptable standard of living in rural communities. For our communities to remain viable we need schools, hospitals, and public safety services. To lose our rural hospitals would be devastating to all of the rural and mountain communities. Individuals in rural California should not be shortchanged or treated any differently than other Californians. Please join with me to let the Governor's office know how important rural health care is to your community. Call today at (916) 445-2841.
Assemblyman Brian Dahle, R-Bieber, Represents the 1st Assembly District in the California Legislature, which includes Shasta, Lassen, Nevada, Siskiyou, Modoc, Plumas, and Sierra Counties, and portions of Butte and Placer Counties.