RCRC supports Assembly Bill 869, authored by Assembly Member Jim Wood (D-Santa Rosa), which would require Health Care Access and Administration (HCAI), upon appropriation by the Legislature, to provide grants to financially distressed small rural and district hospitals to pay for 2030 seismic upgrades and delay the requirement to 2035. 

Hospitals must comply with seismic safety standards, including a requirement that buildings posing a significant risk of collapse and a danger to the public — referred to as Structural Performance Category (SPC) 1 buildings — be rebuilt or retrofitted to be capable of withstanding an earthquake or removed from acute care service; the hospital must also be capable of continued operation by January 1, 2030. Based on the 2030 requirement to remain operational, 75% of hospital buildings are already 2030 compliant with the more expensive SPC requirements; however, the remaining hospitals, which are spread across more than 250 hospital campuses, must be taken out of service by 2030 or rebuilt to the SPC 4D standard. Small rural hospitals are struggling to comply with these requirements by 2030 due to the costs associated with upgrades.  

AB 869 is a much-needed lifeline for financially distressed rural hospitals to ensure they have the funding needed to meet requirements with flexible compliance timelines, if funds are unavailable. Without grant funding for seismic improvements, we risk additional hospital closures in rural communities. 

The bill is set for hearing in the Assembly Health Committee on March 21, 2023. RCRC’s letter of support is available here. For more information, please contact Sarah Dukett, RCRC Policy Advocate.