Labor Unions Form Coalition To Address Hospital Costs, Health Care Quality
Labor unions representing 500,000 California residents have formed a coalition to address hospital costs and establish standards for health care quality and prices, the Contra Costa Times reports. The California Health Care Coalition was formed in part because of annual health care price increases and CalPERS' decision last year to exclude some hospitals from its Blue Shield of California HMO network because of higher than average prices.
Sally Covington, staff director of CHCC, said, "CalPERS' action was really a wake up," adding, "It signaled an aggressive new stance by purchasers, one that we and our members want to align with."
Although CHCC membership will be restricted to employers with unions, CHCC will seek the support of all private employers.
According to the Times, CHCC said it likely would take action against hospital chain Sutter Health because research conducted by Blue Cross of California and commissioned by CHCC indicated that prices at Sutter facilities exceed state averages.
Sutter spokesperson Bill Gleeson said that the research was incorrect, noting that separate research based on state data found prices for health care services at Sutter facilities were consistent with state averages.
CHCC said it would analyze cost and quality data from its members to support the findings of the Blue Cross study. The Times reports that coalition members could exclude hospitals that do not comply with CHCC price standards from the businesses' health insurance networks.
Covington said, "We're trying to leverage our membership volume to force needed changes. We want to try and raise the performance bar for the entire health care industry" (Silber, Contra Costa Times, 1/25).