Union Will Drop Ballot Initiatives if Hospitals Agree To Negotiate
The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West says it will drop California ballot initiatives aimed at reducing health care costs if hospitals agree to negotiate with the organization, the Wall Street Journal reports (Maher, Wall Street Journal, 12/1).
The ballot initiatives were filed last month in California. Similar proposals introduced by the SEIU-UHW were dropped last year when the union and the hospital industry reached an agreement on cost issues.
However, Dave Regan -- president of United Healthcare Workers West -- said the hospitals have not "lived up to their commitments."
Details of New Ballot Measures
In early November, SEIU-UHW filed the ballot initiatives with the California Attorney General's Office. The filing included:
The Fair Healthcare Pricing Act, which would ban hospitals from charging more than 25% above the actual cost of care; and
The Charitable Hospital Executive Compensation Act, which would bar not-for-profit hospital executives from collecting annual salaries greater than $450,000.
SEIU-UHW estimates that the two measures would save a combined $2.5 billion annually (California Healthline, 11/11).
SEIU-UHW also filed a similar ballot measure in Oregon.
Union Urges Partnership
Regan said the union will back down if hospitals agree to work with SEIU-UHW on various issues. He said hospitals can join the union or "get into some very high-stakes policy and political engagements."
Regan said the union wants to launch a "strategic partnership" with hospitals to lower costs, increase care quality and create a path for organizing workers.
If hospitals do not agree, Regan said the union is willing to spend $10 million to $20 million campaigning for the measures in California.
Hospitals say the measures would reduce revenue and negatively affect care without changing factors that drive increases in health care costs.
Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokesperson for the California Hospital Association, said that negotiations between the union and hospitals made it "clear that the one thing they wanted we cannot do for them," adding, "We cannot force hospitals to allow SEIU to come in and hold elections and remain neutral" (Wall Street Journal, 12/1).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.