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OAKLAND, Calif.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--
California healthcare workers filed two statewide ballot initiatives
with Attorney General Kamala Harris’s office Wednesday, Nov. 23 that
give consumers needed transparency on hospital costs, end overcharging
for hospital services and ensure increased charity care for the neediest.
The package of initiatives was submitted by members of SEIU-United
Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW).
“Three quarters of the hospital industry pays no taxes,” said Dave
Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “Companies that operate tax-free should
not be permitted to overcharge consumers, and they should be required to
meet their charitable duty by providing a reasonable level of services
for prevention, treatment and wellness to those in need.”
The initiatives will appear on the general election ballot in November
2012. They will help consumers by ensuring that hospitals live up to
their commitments to the communities where they operate:
“As healthcare workers we want to make a difference,” said Nisa Walker,
an SEIU-UHW member and healthcare worker in Sacramento. “These
initiatives give consumers transparency and increase care for the needy.
It is exactly what we should demand and expect from healthcare companies
we exempt from taxes because they have a charitable mission.”
Taken together, the ballot measures address the root causes of annual
skyrocketing premiums that average almost 10 percent. Currently health
insurance costs consumers more than $15,000 each year for family
coverage and exceeds 20 percent of income for Californians.
The initiatives would infuse nearly $1.7 billion into the California
economy and use existing government departments for enforcement.
Currently there are no set requirements for how much charity care a
nonprofit hospital must give in order to receive tax exempt status even
though the non-profit hospital industry is holding more than $42 billion
in reserves. The “fair pricing” measure would require all hospitals to
charge patients reasonable rates based on the actual cost of providing
care – putting an end to price gouging.
In 2010 California hospitals charged patients a total of $249 billion –
even though all of California hospitals’ expenses amounted to just $54
billion. For example, in 2010 Olympia Medical Center, a privately-owned
for-profit hospital in Los Angeles, charged patients a total of $979
million, even though the hospital’s total expenses were only $95 million
that year – an average of 1,029 percent of the actual cost of providing
The ballot initiatives are one piece of “Let’s Get Healthy California!”
Under this banner healthcare workers will negotiate contracts, introduce
legislation and work with partner organizations to improve the quality
of healthcare, lower healthcare costs and improve healthcare jobs.
SEIU-UHW members are committed to building a team of 10,000 healthcare
workers to launch a massive education program in the state focused on
wellness and preventive care, and to help prepare for the increasing
healthcare demands of an aging population.
For more information visit http://yesforahealthycalifornia.org/
SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest
hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more
than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a
mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of
the 2.1 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the
nation’s fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.
SEIU-UHWElizabeth Brennan, 213-999-2164