CHA, Union Reach Deal Over Hospital Pricing, Executive Pay
The California Hospital Association has reached an agreement with the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West to end a push for two ballot initiatives targeting hospital pricing and executive pay, Modern Healthcare reports (Evans, Modern Healthcare, 5/6).
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 have banned hospitals from charging more than 25% above the actual cost of care; and
The Charitable Hospital Executive Compensation Act, which would have barred not-for-profit hospital executives from collecting annual salaries greater than $450,000.
SEIU-UHW estimated that the two measures would save a combined $2.5 billion annually (California Healthline, 2/13).
Details of Agreement
As part of the agreement, SEIU-UHW has agreed to drop the two ballot initiatives.
In addition, CHA and most of the state's 430 hospitals will implement a new "code of conduct" to ban negative campaigning between CHA and SEIU-UHW and make it easier for workers to join unions (Terhune, Los Angeles Times, 5/6).
The agreement also calls for the two organizations to jointly fund a $100 million campaign aimed at increasing Medi-Cal payments and reforming the program. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW, said the groups would jointly pursue a Medi-Cal ballot initiative in 2016 if the campaign is unsuccessful (Modern Healthcare, 5/6).
Comments From CHA, SEIU-UHW
CHA CEO C. Duane Dauner said, "If we moved forward with the initiative war, it would have been a major catastrophe for both organizations."
Regan agreed, saying, "Rather than take $100 million and fight each other where the prospects of success are totally unclear and up in the air, we will take a huge amount of resources and attack the problem together" (Los Angeles Times, 5/6).
Dauner defended some hospitals' decisions not to participate in the agreement, noting that CHA intends to watch the terms of the agreement "play out over the next several years" (Modern Healthcare, 5/6).
Dauner added that both groups "will undertake the task of making sure that we fundamentally reform California's Medi-Cal program over the coming two years" (Aliferis, "State of Health," KQED, 5/6).
Criticism of the Deal
Meanwhile, critics of the agreement said it does little to address current problems.
Nelson Lichtenstein -- director of UC-Santa Barbara's Center for the Study of Work, Labor and Democracy -- said, "This doesn't sound like a breakthrough agreement," adding, "SEIU has done this numerous times in the past, and it tends to fall apart."
Sal Rosselli, president of the National Union of Healthcare Workers, in a statement said, "This agreement will undermine the rights of workers and will eliminate the union's watchdog role on behalf of patients" (Los Angeles Times, 5/6).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.