CalPERS: System May Reconsider Bid from Mercy HMO
The California Public Employees' Retirement System may reconsider its "hotly debated" decision last month to reject a bid by Sacramento-based Western Health Advantage to join its health benefits program, the Sacramento Business Journal reports. Spurred by lobbying efforts from the Service Employees International Union -- which has accused Western Health's parent company, Mercy Healthcare Sacramento, of anti-labor practices -- CalPERS voted to deny Western Health the "potentially lucrative contract." The move sparked a debate about the role labor should play when public agencies purchase employees' health benefits. Although CalPERS has not taken official action, spokesperson Bill Branch confirmed that negotiations between the system and Western Health are underway. "We'd never really given up," Western Health CEO Garry Maisel said, adding, "There has been a realization that this is a lot bigger than us. We're just the focal point for labor concern about the flow of dollars into health care and unfair labor practices." However, the union's position has not changed, according to Dennak Murphy, coordinator of SEIU's capital stewardship programs. He said, "[Western Health hasn't] presented anything new or different. The board made a decision, and the next application round in early 2001 seems to me like the appropriate time for [the HMO] to seek reapplication." To help resolve the situation, Western Health has hired former state Assemblyman Phil Isenberg of the lobbying firm Hyde, Miller, Owen & Trost (Robertson, 7/3).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.