Home / LATEST NEWS / Key Senate Committee Approves AB 918 Protecting Access to Imperial Valley Healthcare

Key Senate Committee Approves AB 918 Protecting Access to Imperial Valley Healthcare

-Editorial

On Wednesday, July 12, the California State Senate Committee on Governance and Finance voted with bipartisan support to approve Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia’s (D-Coachella) AB 918.

This vote brings the vision of expanded healthcare access through a united, integrated Imperial Valley healthcare district closer to reality. Given the urgency of this regional issue, Assemblymember Garcia and Senator Steve Padilla (D-San Diego) jointly presented AB 918 before the Senate committee.

“Access to healthcare in Imperial County is at serious risk if we do not act urgently. Our community’s health and well-being are on the line. Establishing a united, integrated healthcare system will allow us to improve the quality and delivery of care and the overall financial outlook of hospital operations while ensuring greater health equity across the county,” said Assemblymember Garcia. “As hospitals throughout rural California struggle to keep their doors open, we are focused on protecting care and preventing closures.”

“The creation of a singular healthcare district will result in cost-savings, more effective healthcare delivery, and integration and better management of resources to meet the needs of Imperial County residents. We cannot allow this historically overlooked region of our state to lose critical access to healthcare services,” stated Senator Padilla.

“Assemblymember Garcia has been working tirelessly with stakeholders and members of the community to see this come together and I am proud to follow his leadership in this effort.”

Community members concerned over the future of Imperial Valley hospitals brought this legislative proposal forward. Establishing one united regional healthcare district will allow Imperial County to consolidate and coordinate medical services to improve healthcare access and cost-saving benefits for residents. AB 918 has earned a strong showing of support from Imperial County cities, healthcare organizations, and nonprofits. Voices of community support traveled to Sacramento and flooded committee phone lines urging passage of the legislation.

“Medically underserved people living below the poverty line are 25.3% of Calexico residents, which is higher than the national average of 13.1%,” explained Blanca Morales, CEO of the Calexico Wellness Center, who participated as a witness during the committee hearing. “The significant consequences with a lack of primary care, underlying health issues or chronic diseases like diabetes, chronic respiratory disease, hypertension, and cancer screening, result in people more likely to get severely ill or die from.”

Tomas Virgen, CEO of the Heffernan Memorial Healthcare District, provided written testimony stating, “It is my firm belief that unless our healthcare system unifies, patients will continue to suffer.” His comments went on to describe AB 918 as the “only lifeline in this sea of change.”

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