Nav: Home

Seismic safety upgrades may cost CA hospitals billions

March 28, 2019

California hospitals would need to make substantial investments - between $34 billion and $143 billion statewide - to meet 2030 state seismic safety standards, according to a new RAND Corporation report.

After the 1994 Northridge Earthquake, in which 11 hospitals were damaged, and eight were evacuated, the state adopted SB1953, which aims to improve hospital resilience to seismic events. The law requires hospitals to reduce their buildings' risk of collapse by 2020 and to remain operational after an earthquake by 2030.

This study, which builds upon earlier RAND research on the law's cost to hospitals, focuses on the 2030 deadline. Researchers assessed the cost and affordability of compliance of the state's 418 general acute-care hospitals based on recent hospital data, depending on whether hospitals upgrade current buildings or opt for new construction.

The state law puts the responsibility on hospitals to pay the entire cost for upgrades. The researchers note that this presents a challenge to the state's hospital industry, with 34 percent of all hospitals currently in some form of financial distress. That could rise to more than 50 percent as hospitals comply with the law. The most significant increases are likely to be among public healthcare district hospitals, independent private hospitals, critical access hospitals that serve rural areas and hospitals that serve a large share of Medi-Cal patients, according to the study.

"There is little question that it is in the public interest to have seismically resilient hospitals. But given that hospitals most at risk of collapse will be upgraded by 2020, there is an opportunity for analysis and discussion for how to most effectively and efficiently enhance resilience in health service delivery in the future," said Benjamin Preston, the report's lead author and a senior policy researcher and director of RAND's Community Health and Environmental Policy Program. "While acute-care hospitals still play a critical role, more and more individuals rely on outpatient services to support health needs. It is important that capital investments in health facilities are aligned with current models for health care delivery."

The report, which was funded by the California Hospital Association (CHA), describes the potential cost implications of the law but does not make specific policy recommendations as to whether it should be implemented as is or altered. Instead, it presents possible policy alternatives that may more effectively balance the public benefits of seismic safety with the financial burden imposed by seismic requirements.

As part of RAND's commitment to independent and objective analysis, a project advisory committee was established at the outset of the project. Members of that group consisted of stakeholders with diverse views - private-sector structural engineers, former hospital executives as well as CHA-member hospitals. As with all RAND analyses, the report was subjected to RAND's rigorous research quality assurance process, which includes an independent peer review.

Other authors of the report are Tom LaTourrette, James Broyles, R.J. Briggs, David Catt, Christopher Nelson, Jeanne Ringel and Daniel Waxman. RAND Social and Economic Well-Being is a division of RAND that seeks to actively improve the health and social and economic well-being of populations and communities throughout the world.
-end-


RAND Corporation

Related Health Articles:

Public health guidelines aim to lower health risks of cannabis use
Canada's Lower-Risk Cannabis Use Guidelines, released today with the endorsement of key medical and public health organizations, provide 10 science-based recommendations to enable cannabis users to reduce their health risks.
Generous health insurance plans encourage overtreatment, but may not improve health
Offering comprehensive health insurance plans with low deductibles and co-pay in exchange for higher annual premiums seems like a good value for the risk averse, and a profitable product for insurance companies.
The Lancet Planetary Health: Food, climate, greenhouse gas emissions and health
Increasing temperatures, water scarcity, availability of agricultural land, biodiversity loss and climate change threaten to reverse health gains seen over the last century.
With health insurance at risk, community health centers face cut-backs
Repeal of key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, combined with a failure to renew critical funding streams, would result in catastrophic funding losses for community health centers-forcing these safety net providers to cut back on services, lay off staff or shut down clinical sites, according to a report published today.
Study clusters health behavior groups to broaden public health interventions
A new study led by a University of Kansas researcher has used national health statistics and identified how to cluster seven health behavior groups based on smoking status, alcohol use, physical activity, physician visits and flu vaccination are associated with mortality.
More Health News and Health Current Events

Best Science Podcasts 2019

We have hand picked the best science podcasts for 2019. Sit back and enjoy new science podcasts updated daily from your favorite science news services and scientists.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Anthropomorphic
Do animals grieve? Do they have language or consciousness? For a long time, scientists resisted the urge to look for human qualities in animals. This hour, TED speakers explore how that is changing. Guests include biological anthropologist Barbara King, dolphin researcher Denise Herzing, primatologist Frans de Waal, and ecologist Carl Safina.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#534 Bacteria are Coming for Your OJ
What makes breakfast, breakfast? Well, according to every movie and TV show we've ever seen, a big glass of orange juice is basically required. But our morning grapefruit might be in danger. Why? Citrus greening, a bacteria carried by a bug, has infected 90% of the citrus groves in Florida. It's coming for your OJ. We'll talk with University of Maryland plant virologist Anne Simon about ways to stop the citrus killer, and with science writer and journalist Maryn McKenna about why throwing antibiotics at the problem is probably not the solution. Related links: A Review of the Citrus Greening...