SEIU-UHW Launches $3M Fund for Hospital Accountability Efforts
Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West has launched a new $3 million fund that could be used to support a proposed ballot measure that would cap hospital executives' pay, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 12/21).
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.
However, SEIU-UHW in May 2014 reached an agreement with the California Hospital Association to end its push for the two ballot initiatives.
The agreement called for:
- CHA and most of the state's 430 hospitals to implement a new "code of conduct" to ban negative campaigning between CHA and SEIU-UHW and make it easier for workers to join unions; and
- 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.
However, the union in November revived the ballot measure that would limit compensation packages to no more than $450,000 annually for:
- Administrators and managers at not-for-profit hospitals;
- Hospital executives; and
- Hospital groups and affiliated medical organizations.
At the time, SEIU-UHW spokesperson Steve Trossman said the union's partnership and labor management agreement with CHA would remain. However, CHA officials said SEIU-UHW's decision violated last year's agreement (California Healthline, 11/23).
Details of Fund
According to the Business Journal, SEIU-UHW said the new fund, which could be used to bolster the revived ballot measure, is intended to ensure hospitals fulfill their responsibilities to patient and community health.
SEIU-UHW is using the fund to "prepar[e] for all potential situations," according to SEIU-UHW spokesperson Sean Wherley.
The union also could use the fund to oppose certain ballot measures, the Business Journal reports.
For example, SEIU-UHW in a release said that two recent proposals -- including one that would increase taxes, in part to fund hospitals -- "potentially put billions of dollars at the disposal of hospital executives with little accountability around access, affordability and quality" (Sacramento Business Journal, 12/21).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.