California Healthline Daily Edition

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SEIU-UHW Says Ballot Initiatives Seek To Stop ‘Hospital Price Gouging’

This week, representatives of Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West said that two initiatives the union is seeking to put on the November ballot are designed to stop "hospital price gouging," KPCC's "KPCC News" reports.

Details of the Initiatives

Under one initiative -- the Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2012 -- hospitals would be prohibited from charging fees that are more than 25% above the actual cost of services.

The other initiative -- called the Charity Care Act of 2012 -- would require some not-for-profit hospitals to spend at least 5% of patient revenue on health care for low-income patients. State law currently requires charity care, but specifies no minimum amount (Bailey, "KPCC News," KPCC, 2/14).

This month, SEIU-UHW began collecting signatures in support of the initiatives.

The union must obtain a total of about 505,000 signatures from registered voters by June 18 to qualify the measures for the fall ballot.

Dave Regan, an SEIU executive vice president, recently said the union expects to acquire enough signatures by April 1.

According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office and the state Department of Finance, the initiatives could cause hospitals to eliminate services, raise rates or reduce staff (California Healthline, 2/6).

Hospitals' Response

Jim Lott -- a spokesperson for the Hospital Association of Southern California -- said that SEIU has identified the "real problem" of high care pricing but is pursuing the "wrong solution."

He said, "The solution isn't to cut a hospital's ability to charge," noting that SEIU "should be focusing on trying to get [the] government to pay its fair share" ("KPCC News," KPCC, 2/14). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.