Assemblyman Bill Brough (R-Dana Point) and Senator Patricia Bates (R-Laguna Niguel) issued the following joint statement today regarding the outcome of their legislation to preserve emergency care services at Saddleback Memorial Medical Center’s San Clemente campus (San Clemente Hospital). The Assembly Health Committee voted down Brough’s Assembly Bill 911 yesterday and the Senate Health Committee did not approve Bates’ Senate Bill 787 today.
“The clearest indication yet that Sacramento has no plan to deal with the closing of emergency rooms in California occurred yesterday and today when AB 911 and SB 787 failed to pass out of the Assembly and Senate Health Committees. This says a lot more about a flawed process than anything else, and in no way reflects upon the City of San Clemente, Saddleback Memorial, or our residents, who made a compelling case for the need to take action now.
“Fundamentally, we are deeply troubled by Sacramento’s failure to recognize the scope of the problem and support these enduring community health care needs. With the implementation of the Affordable Care Act and the rapidly changing health care industry, California must develop a comprehensive plan of response. If not, more hospitals will close and more Californians will go unserved. Our efforts will always be for our residents regardless of special interests and industry trends and we will continue to make this case. Our work has not ended with the committees’ votes on our bills.
“We are grateful for the outpouring of support for our legislation. South Orange County residents need and deserve access to life-saving emergency services, and despite what happened yesterday and today, we encourage local leaders to explore local solutions.
“We thank our legislative colleagues who took the time to tour San Clemente Hospital last September and the committee members who voted in support of our bills. We hope this helps shed more light on this growing problem throughout the state.
“The City of San Clemente, Saddleback Memorial and the Save San Clemente Hospital Foundation worked tirelessly in support of our legislation and that is why we hope all sides can continue to work together to find a realistic solution for South Orange County residents. We ask that San Clemente Hospital remain open until a solution is agreed upon.”
Brough and Bates introduced identical legislation in their respective chambers in March 2015 to jumpstart a dialogue with their colleagues, with Brough introducing AB 911 and Bates authoring SB 787. The Senate and Assembly Health Committees heard both bills last April, with both being referred for further study. On September 21, 2015, Brough and Bates hosted a bipartisan tour of the hospital for the chairs of the Legislature’s health committees, Senator Ed Hernandez and Assembly Member Rob Bonta.
Both of these bills would have authorized San Clemente Hospital to operate a free-standing emergency room under Saddleback’s consolidated license to ensure that emergency services remain available to local residents.
San Clemente Hospital has served South Orange County for more than 40 years and is the only emergency care facility in San Clemente and neighboring communities. Saddleback Memorial, the hospital’s operator, is considering plans to convert it into an ambulatory health care campus that would provide outpatient surgery and urgent care services.