Saturday, September 23, 2023

Assemblyman Jim Wood Introduces Bill to Permanently Allow Critical Access Hospitals to Employ Physicians

The following is a press release issued by the Office of California State Assemblyman Jim Wood:

Assemblyman Jim Wood [Photograph from his political Facebook page]

Assemblymember Jim Wood (D-Healdsburg) has introduced AB 242, which would permanently allow critical access hospitals (CAHs) to employ physicians. CAHs are defined by the federal government as small hospitals with 25 or fewer beds, often located in remote and rural areas. The designation was created to reduce the financial vulnerability of rural hospitals and improve access by keeping essential services in rural communities.

Two prior bills enacted into law – SB 376 in 2003 that applied to qualified district hospitals, authored by then Senator Wesley Chesbro, and AB 2024 in 2016 that applied to CAHs, authored  by Wood – resulted in two separate 7-year pilot programs. AB 242 would remove the sunset of AB 2024 and permanently allow CAHs the option to employ physicians.

“Critical access hospitals provide care to Californians who live in more remote areas and they have real challenges finding enough physicians to adequate staff their hospitals,” said Wood. “The pilot has allowed CAHs to hire physicians who may prefer to be an employee and it has also provided an incentive to attract physicians to their communities who otherwise would not see a private practice being financially feasible in a rural and smaller populated community.”

These two pilot programs have been successful in recruiting physicians while, at the same time, preserving and protecting a physician’s ability to practice medicine without interfering with their professional judgment.

“Preserving the conventional mode of practice is short-sighted and slighting the patients who need care,” said Wood. “Other states, and now California, have shown that the sky will not fall and hiring physicians who want to practice as an employee has been mutually beneficial, not only to the hospital and the physicians, but most importantly to the patients they serve.”

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  1. This must happen immediately or these hospital should be investigated for fraud because, due to lack of care in urgent care or private offices, folks are forced to go to the Emergency Rooms where they have to pay much higher fees for care. I had the flu in December and because my pcp was gone and the provider at the only clinic in town, was also sick, I was forced to go to the ER to get medical treatment. I now have a bill for 1400$ and I was sent home and told to take OTC meds. I was forced to go back 4 days later because I still had a fever of 101degrees and had not improved. I was finally given prescription medication and eventually improved. I now have a bill of $2500. I have been an LPN for 3r years and I have a BA in Healthcare Administration. I work for a local home health and hospice agency across the Border in Oregon and we are trying to open a hospice in Del Norte County, which has not had these services in more than 20 years. I personally think that this MUST change or the ER should change their prices when they close the urgent care!

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MendoFever Staff
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