The north state's Sen. Jim Nielsen, a Republican, has teamed with Democratic Assemblyman Luis Alejo of Salinas to call for restoring Medi-Cal funding for California’s most vulnerable patients. In the last five years, about 40 hospital-based skilled nursing facilities in the state have closed due to financial pressures and many more find themselves at the brink of bankruptcy and closure, the lawmakers contend. This is the result of Medi-Cal cuts that were implemented to deal with the budget crisis two years ago, they explain. Although California’s budget purportedly has a surplus this year, Gov. Jerry Brown has not committed to reversing those cuts.
“In many cases, these hospital-based skilled-nursing facilities are the only point of access to health care, especially in the rural areas I represent,” said Nielsen, whose district includes many small hospitals in Northern California. “Unless we take action, these facilities are going to close. That means patients will remain in the acute-care hospital longer, adding greater costs to the health care system than the dollars ’saved’ through the proposed cuts from two years ago."