SAN PABLO -- Assemblywoman Nancy Skinner has introduced a bill aimed at keeping Doctors Medical Center in San Pablo open by increasing federal reimbursement rates, according to a Richmond city councilman.
In an email to city officials, Councilman Jael Myrick asked for an emergency council meeting to be set for Tuesday night, to allow the mayor and the council to pass a resolution supporting the legislation.
Last fall, West Contra County's only public hospital announced a fiscal emergency and moved to cut services. Last week, it stopped accepting ambulances and reduced the number of inpatient beds to 50. The hospital, which serves many poor and uninsured residents, has struggled financially and loses between $18 million to $20 million a year, said Contra Costa County Supervisor John Gioia.
If passed, the bill would make DMC a designated public hospital, a distinction
typically afforded to county hospitals, increasing its reimbursements
under Medi-Cal by some $4 million per year. That would still be $14 million short of the revenue needed to break even, meaning other measures would have to be implemented, Gioia said.
"It's helpful and we appreciate Assemblywoman Skinner's efforts, but other things would have to happen for the hospital to remain open," he added.
In May, voters rejected Measure C, which would have provided about $20 million a year to the struggling hospital. After the vote, the county board of supervisors loaned the district $6 million to prevent the hospital from closing.
A message left for Assemblywoman Skinner was not immediately returned.
Myrick said the health of thousands of West County residents would be at risk unless steps are taken to keep the hospital open.
"A lot of residents will be impacted because they will have to travel farther, so it's really important that we get something done," he said. "This has the potential to put a huge dent in their budget (deficit)."
Staff writer Robert Rogers contributed to this story. Follow Karina Ioffee at Twitter.com/kioffee.