Association News

Wildfire and Advocacy Updates

I hope you all had a wonderful and safe Fourth of July last week, filled with celebration, reflection and time with loved ones.

Wildfire Challenges

Southern California’s heat wave has made it clear that summer is upon us, with temperatures peaking last week and remaining high throughout this week. As we endure this excessive heat, it’s crucial to consider its potential impact on our communities and hospitals. Triple-digit temperatures and prolonged heat increase the threat of wildfires, as shown by the Thompson fire, which broke out last Tuesday in Butte County, northern California.

We’re all too familiar with the challenges wildfires pose to our hospitals. These hurdles include Public Safety Power Shutoffs (PSPS), increased patient volume from respiratory issues, evacuations, road closures, and the potential for increased hospitalizations.

Over the weekend, several fires broke out in Southern California, including the Vista Fire in the San Bernardino National Forest and the Lake Fire in Santa Barbara County. HASC remains alert, monitoring the region for any activity threatening your ability to deliver care.

Medical Debt Relief

In Los Angeles County, you may have seen reports that the county is committing $5 million to partner with Undue Medical Debt to address $500 million in debt for a group of residents. This pilot program is expected to launch later this year. Hospitals are being asked to participate, and many of you may have already been contacted to join the pilot. 

HASC expects public health authorities to also propose an ordinance to monitor hospital debt relief activities and, potentially, implement data reporting mandates in the coming months. As the Department of Public Health finalizes this ordinance, HASC is in dialogue with department leadership, along with members of the Board of Supervisors, to share hospitals’ perspective and concerns.

Our goal is to ensure these efforts do not result in punitive actions, increased administrative burdens for our hospitals, or public rating of individual hospital debt relief activities and policies. As these discussions continue, we will keep the field updated.

Other Advocacy Updates

HASC has also been working on your behalf with local Medi-Cal managed care plans. I’m pleased to share some updates on our advocacy:

  • This year, L.A. Care Health Plan introduced a new hospital pay-for-performance pool, adding $28 million to support hospital initiatives. HASC is also collaborating with L.A. Care to boost hospital participation in health information exchanges and to enhance encounter data submission to the Hospital Quality Institute, enabling hospitals to qualify for incentive payments.
  • HASC partnered with CalOptima Health to ensure timely submission of contract amendments, allowing hospitals to receive their contracted rate increases effective July 1, 2024. This collaboration will provide an additional $250 million in base rate reimbursements to hospitals through December 31, 2026.
  • We’re also working on strategic collaborations with endorsed business partners, like Dexur and Voyce, to address health care disparities in quality outcomes and support patients with limited English skills.
  • HASC teamed up with another endorsed business partner, PointClickCare, to host a care collaboration symposium aimed at improving patient throughput. The symposium, held in Orange County last month, attracted 99 attendees, including representatives from managed care plans.

As we navigate these summer challenges, HASC remains committed to supporting your efforts in providing exceptional care to our communities. Stay tuned for further updates and, as always, don’t hesitate to reach out with any concerns or questions.

Take care and stay safe (and cool).

George G.