Asm. Kamlager’s Bill Prohibits Health Care Facilities from Limiting Access to Comprehensive Care

Wednesday, February 17, 2021

(SACRAMENTO) – The hospital industry has consolidated and changed during the past few decades. One trend has had a significant impact on patient care: hospital mergers and affiliations. In many parts of the state, corporations have created monopolies in which they are the only option for patients seeking medical care. This gives CEOs unchecked power over patient care-- whether that means charging exorbitant prices or using religious doctrine to deny care altogether.
Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager (D-Los Angeles) introduced AB 705, the PEACE Act, to protect the right of every individual to comprehensive medical care by prohibiting health facilities from limiting access to medical services based upon these non-clinical criteria. “Corporations should not be granted the authority to deny patients care based on "personal beliefs" or profit motives that conflict with the clinical decision-making of physicians and other healthcare providers,” Kamlager said. “California banned the corporate practice of medicine for this purpose – to ensure that those who are untrained in medicine do not interfere with the practice of medicine, nor prevent access to comprehensive healthcare.”

Today, about one in six hospital beds is in a Catholic-affiliated hospital. Given the growing market share and the presence of hospitals that impose nonclinical criteria and protocols and the lack of alternative facilities in certain areas of the state, the need to ensure community access to comprehensive care is growing.

“Restrictions based on religious doctrines are not evidence-based nor grounded in medical science, nor do they claim to be,” said Kamlager. “Administrators of entities and corporations should not be able to deny patients care based on personal beliefs.”

“Patients are put at risk when they have to leave one hospital for another to receive care,” she added. “We must protect women, transgender and gender-nonconforming patients in need of reproductive health services and the practitioners who are prohibited from providing this essential care.”
 
Religious hospitals are not the only entities threatening patient access to medical care. In recent years, private equity firms have also been acquiring independent practices at unprecedented rates. When private equity firms acquire physician practices, shareholders maximize profits by forcing physicians to perform unnecessary but expensive procedures, direct more referrals internally, and charge higher rates for medical care. In addition, hospitals without competition get away with rendering only profitable services.
 
Kamlager said that California has an ethical imperative to ensure access to affordable, quality care in a manner which understands and values its diversity and refrains from discrimination based upon personal characteristics such as race, religion, national origin, gender and sexual orientation.

To schedule an interview with Assemblymember Kamlager, contact Nikki Johnson at (916) 213-6058.
 
Assembly District 54 consists of Baldwin Hills, Cheviot Hills, the Crenshaw District, Century City, Culver City, Ladera Heights, Mar Vista, Palms, Rancho Park, Westwood and parts of South Los Angeles and Inglewood.