Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia and CA HHS Secretary Ghaly Coordinate Urgent Healthcare Priorities with Locals

CA HHS Secretary Ghaly

(Imperial, CA) —On Monday, November 27, Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia (D-Coachella) welcomed Dr. Mark Ghaly, Secretary of the California Health and Human Services Agency, to Imperial Valley to coordinate with locals on their urgent healthcare priorities. Importantly, Secretary Ghaly presented information to regional health stakeholders on the upcoming Medi-Cal reimbursement rate increases, coordinated AB 918 implementation, and discussed recently awarded loan relief and cost-saving measures to ensure the well-being of local hospitals.


“We are grateful to have Secretary Ghaly join our Imperial Valley healthcare coordination efforts as we work with stakeholders to safeguard access to life-saving medical care. Discussions outlined several critical cost-saving measures and set us on a pathway to ensure the success of our new Imperial Valley Healthcare District in compliance with steps outlined in the new state law and with the support of the $56 million distressed hospital loan funds we secured from the state,” said Assemblymember Eduardo Garcia. “This was a highly productive meeting, and we look forward to enhanced stakeholder collaboration and community engagement as we move forward with these next critical steps of AB 918 implementation.”


Secretary Ghaly utilized his visit to review the $56 million distressed hospital loan funding received by local hospitals and the critical role of these funds in safeguarding Imperial Valley’s healthcare system and delivery of emergency medical care. Assemblymember Garcia joint authored legislation creating this financial relief program to keep El Centro Regional Medical Center and Pioneers Memorial Healthcare District hospitals open and to support the merger of healthcare districts into one, united county-wide system.


In addition to the increase in Medi-Cal reimbursement rates, Secretary Ghaly highlighted the cost-saving opportunities made possible by consolidating healthcare districts into the new Imperial Valley Health Care District. Local hospital CEOs agreed with Ghaly and outlined several early cost-saving measures and streamlined efficiencies that could be implemented. Attendees had confidence in the fiscal actions proposed moving forward with AB 918. In contrast, serious concerns were expressed regarding Pioneers’ LAFCO expansion proposal and the unneeded tax it seeks to impose. The state made clear that under AB 918, the establishment of one consolidated regional healthcare system could provide millions in cost savings without a present need for any new taxes.


Conversations reinforced that AB 918 is state law, and the focus must be directed toward law compliance. Secretary Ghaly, Assemblymember Garcia, and locals coordinated further on AB 918 implementation, including timelines, roles, and responsibilities. Imperial Valley health stakeholders left the meeting with a clear set of direction moving forward with the steps outlined in state law for the Imperial Valley Healthcare District. Assemblymember Garcia thanks Secretary Ghaly and attendees for a productive meeting and looks forward to continued stakeholder collaboration to ensure the success of the Imperial Valley Healthcare District in compliance with the new state law.