4/20 Press Release: Avoiding a Local Healthcare Crisis

CITY OF TEMECULA

PRESS RELEASE

DATE: April 20, 2010

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

City Contact: Mayor Jeff Comerchero

(951) 506-5100

Avoiding a Local Healthcare Crisis

Yesterday the California State Department of Public Health issued a letter to Southwest Healthcare advising that they are “initiating the process of revoking their license.”  This letter comes on the heels of the Federal government terminating Southwest’s Medicare reimbursements starting June 1.  Clearly this situation is critical for all of us.

Last night the Mayors of the cities in our region participated in an emergency conference call coordinated by Assemblyman Kevin Jeffries.  It also included Supervisor Jeff Stone, County Health officials and the State of California Deputy Director of Public Health, Kathleen Billingsley.  During this call we learned several things about the process, the most important of which was that no local hospitals will be closing in the near future.

The State license revocation process can take up to 24 months.  Although the Federal CMS decertification (Medicare payment reimbursement) is scheduled to take effect on June 1st, we were advised that if the Federal government’s discussions with Southwest Healthcare are progressing in a positive direction, that date can be extended.

The State Deputy Director of Public Health told us that the door is open for the discussions that must take place in order to correct the problems that have been identified at both the State and Federal level.  Resolving the issues will put our two area hospitals back on track to do what they are intended to do; namely to treat illness and disease and give our residents a level of confidence that they will be well taken care of should they require emergency care, life saving surgery, and/or a prolonged hospital stay.

The fate of healthcare in our region is almost entirely in the hands of Southwest Healthcare.  If it is their desire to remain open and continue to provide their full array of services, and they have told us it is, then it is incumbent upon them to demonstrate that they see the gravity of the situation.  Doing so means that they are ready to do whatever it takes, including committing the necessary resources, to cure the problems that have caused both the State and Federal governments to take these extremely serious actions.

The City of Temecula will accept nothing less than the best level of healthcare for our residents.  We will do everything possible within our power and authority to ensure that that is the case.  We demand that all parties put their past issues aside and make sure that their number one priority is the health and welfare of the citizens of Temecula and the other cities of Southwest Riverside County.  As things develop we will keep you informed.  It is our goal to ensure that you know what we know during every step of what promises to be a long process.

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