Release: Senate Approves Hernandez Bill to Reform Hospital Discharge Policies for Homeless Californians

May 30, 2018

SACRAMENTO – Today, the State Senate approved passage of Senate Bill 1152, which provides a more humane process for discharging homeless patients after their hospital stay.

Authored by Senator Ed Hernandez, O.D., (D-West Covina) and approved by a vote of 26-13, Senate Bill 1152 addresses a practice known as “patient dumping” where homeless patients are discharged under unsafe conditions.

“Hospitals should be working more closely with homeless services agencies and other organizations in order to ensure homeless Californians have the proper care they deserve and are not discharged under unsafe conditions,” said Senator Hernandez, chair of the Senate Health Committee. “We must do everything we can to help homeless Californians get back on their feet and I believe SB 1152 is one step toward that goal.”

The Sacramento Bee reported a story detailing a Sacramento woman who was turned away from a local shelter after having undergone a double-mastectomy for breast cancer. In San Diego, a man was found dead under a bridge in a hospital gown after having been released from the hospital that day.

The homeless community often cycles in and out of hospitals because of their significant medical and social service needs. Sponsors of the bill, the California Pan-Ethnic Health Network (CPEHN) and SEIU California, are advocating for patients to be discharged in a safe manner.

SB 1152 recognizes the link between homelessness and health outcomes as well as the power our health care system has to improve the lives of Californians,” said Kimberly Chen, CPEHN Government Affairs Manager. “This is an opportunity for hospitals and community agencies to partner in tackling this important issue together.”

The California State Legislature has taken steps on multiple fronts, including addressing the high cost of housing and improving treatment for people with mental illness and substance use disorders. 

SB 1152 would:

  • Require hospitals to have a discharge planning policy and process for homeless patients, and to develop a plan for coordinating services and referrals for homeless patients with the county behavioral health agency, and social services agencies in the region. 
  • Prohibit discharging patients to any place other than the location identified by the patient as where they live, unless it is to a social services agency, a nonprofit social services provider, or a governmental service provider that has agreed to accept the patient.
  • Require the homeless discharge policies to include a number of protections for homeless patients, such as offering the patient a recent meal, offering weather-appropriate clothing, and providing transportation to the discharge destination.

SB 1152 now heads to the Assembly.

Dropbox clips available to use for TV/Radio:

Read the SB 1152 bill language.

Read the SB 1152 fact sheet.