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CA Hospital Closings

2011-09-02 18:42:37.089877+00 by ebradway 3 comments

I was talking politics over beers with a friend last night... I know, bad idea. But he's still my friend!

Anyhow, the discussion got around to immigration. He threw out the statement (not a direct quote) "23 hospitals in California closed because of illegal immigrants using their services." I called "bullshit" but we lacked the bandwidth to find verification.

Today I did a quick search and found this document from the California Attorney General's office describing the 23 hospital closures from 1995-2000. I don't have the free time to go any further, but the number of closures matches my friend's statement. The report notes that a disproportionate number of for-profit hospitals closed (for profit hospitals made up 48% of closures versus > 33% of hospitals in California). The vast majority were < 200 bed hospitals (i.e., smaller) that were relatively close to larger hosptials.

The main reasons for closure cited were:

  • declining reimbursements due to MediCal and MediCare
  • lower utilization due to improved technology and shortened stays
  • competition

Some hospitals did site "an increase in non-paying patients" but also cited factors like loss of insurance network status and proximity to major fault lines.

The language of this document makes me question if it is misreporting the facts or trying to present a particular spin on the closures. This report drafted during Bill Lockyer's term as AG. Despite it being a very official looking document on a ca.gov site, I feel like I'm not getting the whole picture.

Does anyone else have references for hospital closures in California, especially anything that directly correlates illegal immigration usage with closures? (Not that correlation equates to causation...)

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comments in descending chronological order (reverse):

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-02 19:22:52.633281+00 by: Dan Lyke

Maybe... I'm finding that Medi-Cal covers some things for undocumented immigrants, including prenatal and birth services, but may not cover primary care. Will dig deeper.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-02 19:14:17.236202+00 by: ebradway

Ah... Medi-Cal pays for undocumented immigrants? If the hospitals don't bear the cost then it's impossible to claim that hospitals in California have closed because of care provided to undocumented immigrants.

#Comment Re: made: 2011-09-02 19:06:22.83161+00 by: Dan Lyke

I've just started reading the document and don't have more information, but a quick search suggests that Medi-Cal provides a lot of coverage for undocumented immigrants, so I question that this would be a cost that the hospitals themselves would end up unduly bearing. Will dig further.