Ballot Measures Filed To Prompt Debate Over Hospital Costs, Salaries
A health care workers' union in California has filed two ballot initiatives in an effort to engage the state's hospital industry in a public debate over rising costs and high executive salaries, according to union officials, the Sacramento Bee's "Capitol Alert" reports.
The move comes after similar ballot initiatives introduced by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West last year were dropped when the union and the hospital industry reached an agreement on such issues.
However, Dave Regan -- president of United Healthcare Workers West -- said the hospitals have not "lived up to their commitments."
Details of Ballot Measures
On Friday, SEIU-UHW filed the ballot initiatives with the state Attorney General's Office. 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.
Regan said the hospital industry's "unwillingness to date to really take seriously the call to reform the increasing cost and frankly uneven quality around the state" led to the filing of the ballot measures.
Regan added that the union "fundamentally believe[s] that these measures are not only good policy but they represent the desires and the aspirations of a huge majority of Californians" (Cadelago, "Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/8).
The union said the 10 highest-paid not-for-profit hospital executives in the state received an average salary of $2.6 million in 2011, with the highest-paid executive receiving $7.8 million that year.
Sean Wherley, a spokesperson for the union, added that the measures target not-for-profit hospitals because "they don't have to pay taxes, and yet they're acting with little regard for the communities they're supposed to serve" (AP/Modern Healthcare, 11/9).
The union plans to begin collecting signatures in January 2014 to qualify the measures for the November 2014 ballot ("Capitol Alert," Sacramento Bee, 11/8).
Jan Emerson-Shea, a California Hospital Association spokesperson, said the group was "disappointed" that the ballot measures were filed (Pringle, "KXJZ News," Capital Public Radio, 11/8).
The ballot initiatives "put a cloud over the accomplishments that have been mutually beneficial to health care workers, hospitals and patients," she said (AP/Modern Healthcare, 11/9).
For more information on the ballot initiatives, see today's "Capitol Desk" post.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.