Bonta’s bluff played role in Madera Hospital’s sudden collapse, Madera Co. lawmaker says.

Abysmal Medi-Cal reimbursement rates pushed Madera Community Hospital to the brink, but Attorney General Rob Bonta’s overplayed hand killed an acquisition deal, one Madera County Supervisor said.

Madera County Supervisor Rob Poythress isn’t fully blaming California Attorney General Rob Bonta for the closure of Madera Community Hospital – instead pointing the ultimate finger at the state’s Medi-Cal reimbursement system.

But Poythress did not mince words about Bonta’s handling of the situation, calling the Attorney General “uninformed.” 


The backstory: Madera Community Hospital’s financial woes over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic due to the Medi-Cal reimbursement system and the rising costs of travel nurses placed extraordinary financial pressure on the rural hospital, ultimately resulting in the abrupt shuttering of operations and a Chapter 11 bankruptcy filing.

  • Trinity Health, the operator of Fresno’s St. Agnes Medical Center, had a deal in place to acquire Madera Community Hospital last year. But certain conditions surrounding the deal imposed by Bonta’s office caused Trinity Health to back out, leaving the hospital without another suitor and effectively sealing its fate to bankruptcy. 
  • Newly elected Asm. Esmeralda Soria (D–Fresno) is working with Bonta and Gov. Gavin Newsom to fast-track $5 million to the hospital, but it appears to be too little too late. 

What they’re saying: “I guess I would look at it if it’s still available it would be seed money for whatever happens in the future, but unfortunately we’ve shut down,” Poythress said on KSEE 24’s Sunday Morning Matters. “We have maybe 50-60 employees that are there – security and accounting, things of that sort. But it really is too late. It’s too bad that it didn’t arrive two or three months ago.”

  • Poythress said the state needs to increase Medi-Cal reimbursements if it hopes to reopen the hospital, and he went after Bonta for throwing a wrench in the negotiations with Trinity Health. 
  • “Trinity really held all the cards in this particular transaction,” Poythress said. “The Attorney General, their approach was as if they had some leverage in negotiation, and they really had zero leverage in negotiation because there was only one player lined up, and that was Trinity to come in and provide a measure of services. And the Attorney General really overplayed their hand, and Trinity just said, ‘If that’s what it’s going to look like, we cannot operate this hospital at a loss.’ And they walked.” 
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