California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Union Says It’s on Track To Qualify Ballot Initiatives on Hospital Costs

During a press conference on Tuesday, the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West said it is on track to qualify  two state ballot initiatives aimed at addressing high hospital costs and executive salaries, the San Francisco Business Times' "Bay Area BizTalk" reports (Rauber, "Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 2/11).

Background on Proposed Ballot Initiatives

In November 2013, SEIU-UHW filed two proposed ballot initiatives with the state Attorney General's Office in an effort to engage the state's hospital industry in a public debate over rising costs and high executive salaries. The filing included:

The Fair Healthcare Pricing Act, which would ban hospitals from charging more than 25% above the actual cost of care; and

The Charitable Hospital Executive Compensation Act, which would bar not-for-profit hospital executives from collecting annual salaries greater than $450,000.

SEIU-UHW estimates that the two measures would save a combined $2.5 billion annually (California Healthline, 11/11/13).

Last week, SEIU-UHW launched a series of radio advertisements designed to attract support for the initiatives (California Healthline, 2/4).

According to "Bay Area BizTalk," SEIU-UHW needs 800,000 or more signatures for each initiative by late April in order to qualify as a November ballot measure.

Progress Toward Qualifying Initiatives

During the press conference this week, SEIU-UHW officials criticized several state hospitals for their pricing practices, including:

  • California Pacific Medical Center;
  • John Muir Health; and
  • Saint Francis Memorial Hospital.

In addition, SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan said, "We're ahead of schedule and will absolutely have enough signatures to qualify [the ballot initiatives] by the end of March."

SEIU spokesperson Steve Trossman added that the organization's polling has shown public support for both initiatives ("Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 2/11).

Support From Lawmakers

Meanwhile, in a pair of press releases released last week, SEIU-UHW noted that several state lawmakers have expressed support for the ballot measures, including:

  • Assembly member Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco);
  • Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose) (SEIU-UHW release, 2/5);
  • Assembly member Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles);
  • Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) (SEIU-UHW release, 2/4);
  • Assembly member Bill Quirk (D-Hayward) (SEIU-UHW release, 2/5);
  • Assembly member Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood) (SEIU-UHW release, 2/4);
  • Assembly member Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) (SEIU-UHW release, 2/5); and
  • Assembly member Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara) (SEIU-UHW release, 2/4).
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