Deal Between Union, Calif. Hospital Association Draws Mixed Reaction
An informal partnership between the California Hospital Association and the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West has drawn a mixed reaction from the industry, KPCC's "KPCC News" reports (Aguilera, "KPCC News," KPCC, 6/9).
Background on Partnership
Last month, the groups -- which traditionally have been adversaries -- announced an agreement in which SEIU-UHW would end a push for two ballot initiatives targeting hospital pricing and executive pay:
- 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.
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.
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 (California Healthline, 5/7).
However, many of the details of the agreement remain unknown, according to "KPCC News."
The leaders of both organizations have not released the text of the agreement and will not disclose the names of the hospitals that have signed on to the deal.
SEIU-UHW spokesperson Steve Trossman said the participating hospitals account for the majority of hospital beds in the state.
Support for Partnership
Vanessa Aramayo -- director of the California Partnership, a collation of community groups that had backed the hospital pricing and executive pay ballot initiatives -- said the deal was worth getting CHA to support the Medi-Cal lobbying effort.
She said, "It doesn't make sense if we can get millions of people newly enrolled if they don't have anywhere to go because provider rates are so low and doctors don't want to take Medi-Cal patients."
California Labor Federation Chief Art Pulaski also said he supports the deal because of the Medi-Cal campaign.
Criticism of Partnership
However, Consumer Watchdog President Jamie Court said, "This is a very stark contrast between how the union movement had operated and the way this union (is) going." He also criticized the secrecy around the deal, saying, "It's a mistake to go into a closed door back room type of deal where the public doesn't have a say and the public can't help you if you are a union who represents works who take care of the public."
Meanwhile, Sal Roselli, president of the rival National Union for Healthcare Workers, said SEIU-UHW made the deal with the hospital association to boost its rolls. He said, "It simply helps the union as an organization, it's company unionism," adding, "The union gains more dues payers; it's all about numbers" ("KPCC News," KPCC, 6/9).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.