More critical access facilities are expected to take advantage of the state's new exemption to the ban on corporate medicine.
This story originally appeared in California Healthfax.
Two critical access hospitals in California have hired physicians under a new law that exempts the smallest and most remote hospitals from the state's ban on corporate medicine.
Mayers Memorial Hospital in Fall River Mills and Healdsburg District Hospital hired physicians in January under provisions of Assembly Bill 2024, which allows certain hospitals to hire physicians under a seven-year pilot program that began in January.
"We become much stronger in our ability to attract physicians who want to work in a different environment than what larger hospitals offer," said Nancy Schmid, CEO of Healdsburg District Hospital.
At least half of the state's 34 critical access hospitals plan to take advantage of the new law, said Peggy Wheeler, vice president of Rural Health and Governance for the California Hospital Association (CHA).
"I conducted an informal poll of [critical access] hospitals about a week ago and it appears about half of them plan to hire a physician this year," said Wheeler.
"This is something critical access hospitals have been requesting for a long time and it's good to see that they're going to take advantage of [the waiver]."
AB 2024 exempts 34 critical access hospitals from the state's corporate medicine ban.
A Steady Paycheck
Small, rural hospitals often have a difficult time recruiting physicians and AB 2024 allows hospitals to offer physicians a guaranteed salary and benefits that wouldn't be available to them as independent contractors, according to Wood.
"Most young physicians would prefer to be employed by a hospital rather than go into private practice," he said.