AB 412 seeks to help re-open Madera Community Hospital
SACRAMENTO – Assemblywoman Esmeralda Soria’s AB 412 was approved by the Assembly Health Committee today, April 18th.
AB 412 establishes the Distressed Hospital Loan Program to provide emergency funding to hospitals at high risk of closing or hospitals that have already closed and are attempting to reopen.
Madera Community Hospital closed earlier this year, leaving the 160,000 residents in the heart of California without access to emergency healthcare services, labor and delivery services, and preventative care in their home county. The patients seeking care at the hospital were mostly farmworkers, low-income working people, and essential workers. Now those seeking care are left with no other option but to travel nearly an hour to Fresno or Merced for hospital services.
“This issue of hospital closures is really important as the state continues to pursue expansion of coverage. This is a reminder that folks in my area may qualify for Medi-Cal, but what does that mean if they can’t access care?” said Assemblywoman Soria.
Dr. Mohammad Ashraf, a cardiovascular disease specialist in Madera who has practiced in the area for over 40 years, expressed immense grief and frustration alongside his community and patients due to the closure of Madera Community Hospital.
“It’s devastating that we have patients who literally have no access to medical care at this time,” said Dr. Ashraf. “There’s no way we can let this continue to happen and people keep dying here. This is California, this is the United States, and we need to really be proactive in this. We cannot just give up and lose hope (…) the hospital has to reopen.”
Dr. Ashraf and his colleague, President and Founder of Arya Medical Group, Dr. Ali Rashidian, joined Assemblywoman Soria in sharing testimony during today's Assembly Health Committee hearing.
The closure of Madera Community Hospital is not an isolated incident, as hospitals across the state have been experiencing financial challenges, which were aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Hospitals that are struggling financially serve a high percentage of Medi-Cal patients and are located in rural areas of the state.
“I am committed to working alongside my colleagues in Sacramento to find both short-term and long-term solutions to this health security issue,” said Assemblywoman Soria.
Assemblywoman Soria and Senator Anna Caballero have submitted a budget request for a one-time $1.5 billion hospital relief package.
AB 412 will next be heard in the Assembly Appropriations Committee.