Rep. Jim Costa revealed Thursday that the sale of financially troubled Madera Community Hospital to the corporate parent of Fresno’s Saint Agnes Medical Center is off.
“The people of Madera County should not have to travel more than 30 minutes for healthcare. We must find a way to help.” — Rep. Jim Costa
Last week, state Attorney General Rob Bonta said that he had cleared the decks for Madera Community to be purchased and operated by Trinity Health.
Under California law, the sale or transfer of control of a healthcare facility owned by a nonprofit — as is the case with Madera Community — must secure the approval of the state attorney general.
But it appears that some of the conditions Bonta placed on Trinity Health prevented the transaction from proceeding.
“For more than 18 months we have worked with Madera Hospital and its Board of Directors, the California Attorney General, and state and local leaders to help maintain access to Madera Hospital and the full services that only this acute hospital provides in Madera County,” said Costa, D-Fresno, in a news release. “I believe the Attorney General fairly assessed the application and required reasonable conditions to protect the community.
“Unfortunately, these conditions did not meet the needs that Trinity Health care systems required. I am hopeful that we can find another solution — another partner — who can come in and continue the necessary medical coverage the citizens of Madera County deserve. The people of Madera County should not have to travel more than 30 minutes for healthcare. We must find a way to help.”
AG’s Conditions Stopped Deal: Saint Agnes
The top executive at Saint Agnes explained to The Fresno Bee in a statement on Thursday why the purchase didn’t proceed.
“Trinity Health, Saint Agnes, and Madera entered into this process with every intention of reaching a positive outcome. Unfortunately, given the complex circumstances and the additional conditions imposed by the AG — outlined in the final report issued last Thursday — it became clear we could not move forward,” said Nancy Hollingsworth, president and CEO for Saint Agnes.
Conditions Required by Bonta
Under the terms of the conditional approval, Bonta’s office said, Trinity was required to:
— Use commercially reasonable best efforts in good faith to maintain services at the Madera Community Hospital for five years.
— Accept price caps to ensure continued affordability for Madera residents.
— Ensure continued certification of the hospital as a Medi-Cal and Medicare facility.
— Provide charity care, financial assistance to patients, and community benefits.
— Comply with nondiscrimination rules in the provision of healthcare services.
— And, provide emergency reproductive healthcare services, notice, and information to the public about nonemergency reproductive healthcare not provided, as well as information about alternative licensed providers and transport.
Trinity Health is a not-for-profit Catholic healthcare system. It operates 92 hospitals in 22 states.
Lawmakers Landed Funds to Keep Doors Open
In September, GV Wire reported that an effort by state Sen. Anna Caballero (D-Merced) and Assemblyman Frank Bigelow (R-O’Neals) had secured $5 million in state funding to keep Madera Community open.
According to a joint statement from the lawmakers, the $5 million was intended to “guarantee that the facility stays open until a merger with Trinity Health … is concluded.”
The nonprofit hospital, which opened in 1971, has 106 inpatient beds.
More than 80% of the hospital’s revenue is from Medi-Cal and Medicare patients. Without the state’s intervention in September, people needing medical attention would have had to travel more than 20 miles for services.