Union Pushes Initiatives To Limit Hospital Prices, Boost Charity Care
Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West has begun collecting signatures for two ballot initiatives that seek to limit how much hospitals can charge for health care services and to increase the amount of charity care they provide, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
SEIU-UHW must gatherÂ a total of aboutÂ 505,000 signatures from registered voters by June 18 to put the measures on the November ballot.
Dave Regan, an SEIU executive vice president, said the union expects to acquire enough signatures by April 1 (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3).
Details of SEIU-UHW Proposed Ballot Measures
Under the Charity Care Act of 2012, not-for-profit California hospitals would be required to provide charity care services equal to 5% ofÂ net revenue from patients. There currently are no rules governing how much charity care hospitals must provide to qualify for tax breaks.
Under the Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2012, all hospitals in the stateÂ would be prohibited from charging more than 25% above the actual cost of providing care. According to SEIU-UHW, California hospitals charge patients between 450% to 1,000% more than what it costs to provide care. The fair pricing measure would expire five years after implementation once larger provisionsÂ of the federal health reform law take effect (California Healthline, 11/28/11).
Regan said the measuresÂ would ensure the viability of California's health care industry.
Legislative Analyst's Office, Finance Department Assess Measures
According to the non-partisan Legislative Analyst's Office and the state Department of Finance, the initiatives would affect about 214 privately-owned hospitals.
The agencies said the measures could cause hospitals to eliminate services, raise rates or reduce staff (San Francisco Chronicle, 2/3).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.