Local business leaders met Friday morning in Aliso Viejo to talk about why hospitals need public money, as well as new taxes on the horizon.
A new 1-percent tax on lumber is being proposed by state legislators, according to Greg Burt, representing State Senator Mimi Walters. Also, a new insurance tax could be assessed to fund the California Seismic Safety Commission, Burt said.
In addition, a new 20 percent penalty is being proposed for those who make "erroneous refund claims" on their state income taxes, according to a memo to Walters' office from the Howard Jarvis Tapayers Association.
The keynote speaker of the morning meeting of the South Orange County Economic Coalition was Julie Puentes, regional vice president of the Hospital Association of Southern California, a lobbyist for Southern California hospitals.
Puentes said hospitals continue to seek taxpayer money because of the high number of emergency patients admitted without paying for basic health services.
She said as of 2010, hospital revenue has been down nationwide by 4 percent, and she expects some hospitals to close as a result.
At the same time, Puentes said, government penalties for code violations are increasing, as are bureaucratic requirements.
"I was shocked by the degree of the regulation in this agency," the lobbyist said.
Someone asked Puentes if the Supreme Court's upcoming decision on the Obama health care plan—expect as early as next week—will change the financial landscape of health care. She said it may not.
"The general trend toward trying to reduce admissions is not going to change," she said.
Admissions are the industry term for the number of people admitted to hospital beds. Reducing them is intended to reduce hospital expenses.
A regional business advocacy group that favors extending the 241 toll road and reopening the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station, the SOCEC was started last year as a wing of the South Orange County Regional Chamber of Commerce.