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Gipson Pushes for Health Equity at MLK Community Hospital
By Sentinel News Service
Published March 10, 2022

AB 2426, co-authored by Senator Steven Bradford, will address funding shortfall hospital faces caring for over 100,000 patients per year in its emergency department

Asm. Mike A. Gipson (Courtesy photo)

Assemblymember Mike A. Gipson (D-Carson) introduced AB 2426, to address health equity in the South Los Angeles community. This bill would build off of AB 2599 (Bass, 2009) and cover hospital-based outpatient services provided in the emergency department.

Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital (MLKCH) plans to use the additional funding to cover its significant shortfall in emergency department costs.  Resources freed by filling this gap will be used to continue to invest in the community, expanding community-based prevention and disease management and ultimately reducing reliance on emergency services.

“The COVID-19 pandemic and its disproportionate impact on communities of color has shined a light on the vulnerability of our most medically underserved and the critical role that MLKCH plays in the heart of South LA,” said Gipson.

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“Current streams are insufficient in helping MLKCH maintain and because 87% percent of emergency room visits here are Medi-Cal or uninsured, our effort makes sense. This legislation is putting healthcare equity at the forefront and creating long-lasting investments to improve the lives of our families.”

South LA has been a COVID hot spot and the hospital consistently ranked among the top two in the region for number of COVID patients (8,000) relative to size of facility during the pandemic.  The situation is similar post-pandemic.

Lacking access to community-based providers (South LA has a deficit of 1,300 doctors), patients rely on the emergency department and hospital as their primary source of care, while diseases are left to run their course. The rate of diabetes in South LA is three times the rest of the state, diabetes mortality is 72% higher, and life expectancy is 10 years shorter.

Dr. Elaine Batchlor (Courtesy photo)

“We applaud Assemblymember Gipson and Senator Bradford for introducing AB 2426 to help make our hospital financially secure,” said Dr. Elaine Batchlor, CEO of Martin Luther King Jr. Community Hospital.

“The hospital’s emergency department, initially projected to care for 40,000 patients a year, cares for over 100,000 patients annually.  The hospital receives no supplemental funding for emergency room visits because they are outpatient services.  In fact, MLKCH loses approximately $25 million annually on emergency department care.”

AB 2426 would create an expansion of supplemental funding, as provided for in AB 2599, to cover hospital-based outpatient services provided in the emergency department. The bill would allow MLKCH to use the additional funding to expand community-based prevention and disease management and ultimately reduce reliance on emergency services.

The bill will be heard in the Assembly Health Committee later this month.

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