Healthcare Workers Press Governor to Sign Bill to Stop Hospital Owners from Exploiting Emergency Room Patients

For Immediate Release: September 5, 2012

For more information: David Tokaji, 213-300-8892

SACRAMENTO – A bill to stop hospital owners from profiteering through emergency room admissions passed both houses of the state legislature last week, and now healthcare workers throughout the state are calling on Governor Brown to sign the bill into law.

Senate Bill 359 attempts to stop hospitals from abusing state and federal laws that require health insurers to pay for emergency care regardless of whether that insurer is in the hospital’s coverage network or not. Some hospital owners such as Ontario-based Prime Healthcare are taking advantage of these laws by canceling insurance contracts in order to profiteer from out-of-network emergency room admissions.
SB 359 would maintain all consumer protections while limiting the amount hospitals can charge for treating out-of-network emergency patients, thus reducing costs and improving access to care for thousands of Californians.

Thousands of healthcare workers, including the 150,000-member SEIU – United Healthcare Workers West, are mobilizing in support of the bill’s passage. Workers have launched a massive mail and email campaign and are organizing actions at the state capitol to press Governor Brown to sign the bill into law by the September 30 deadline.

“We’re urging Governor Brown to sign SB 359 because it’s good for patients, consumers, and communities,” said SEIU-UHW member Tammy Lyons, an emergency room nurse at Prime-owned Centinela Hospital. “When people come into the ER they are often in one of the most vulnerable moments of their lives, and hospital owners should not be allowed to exploit that vulnerability.”

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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 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.

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