SEIU-UHW airs new TV ads in L.A., Orange Counties

[Feb. 26, 2014] LOS ANGELESHealthcare workers continued their public awareness campaign about excessive hospital pricing and compensation in California with new cable television ads that will air for two weeks in Los Angeles and Orange Counties.

The 30-second ads identify three non-profit hospitals in Southern California that grossly overcharge for medical products such as aspirin, crutches, and pregnancy tests, and pay their CEOs exorbitant salaries. Specific ads focus on Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and Providence Holy Cross in Los Angeles and St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif.

Curbing high hospital costs and salaries are the subject of two initiatives on track to be placed on the California ballot in November by members of SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, the state’s largest union of hospital and other healthcare workers.

“After seeing these ads, I think most Californians will agree that non-profit hospitals shouldn’t be allowed to pay their CEOs more than half a million dollars and charge $42,000 for a night in the trauma room,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “The mission of these hospitals is to serve the community, but their current actions show just how much they’ve lost sight of that responsibility. We plan to put them back on track by passing these ballot measures.”

Specifically, the ads highlight the following:

  • Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles charges on average 357 percent above its actual costs, including $325 for a pregnancy test and more than $42,000 for a single night in a trauma room, while paying its CEO $3.3 million.
  • Providence Holy Cross Hospital in Los Angeles charges on average 582 percent above its actual costs, such as $339 for crutches and $259 for an orthopedic boot, while paying its CEO $2.1 million.
  • St. Joseph Hospital in Orange, Calif. charges on average 284 percent above its actual costs, including $8 for a single aspirin and $168 for a pregnancy test, while paying its CEO $1 million.

The two statewide ballot initiatives are:

  • Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2014: Prohibits hospitals from charging more than 25 percent above the actual cost of providing patient care. On average, California hospitals charge 320 percent more than the actual cost of providing care in their facilities.
  • Charitable Hospital Executive Compensation Act of 2014: Prohibits nonprofit hospital executives in California from receiving more than $450,000 in annual compensation – the same amount received by the President of the United States. Many top executives in the state’s non-profit hospitals make more than a million dollars a year.

The ballot initiatives have been endorsed by 14 state legislators: Sens. Jim Beall (D-San Jose), Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley), Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) and Mark Leno (D-San Francisco), Ted Lieu (D-Torrance) and Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima); and Assemblymembers Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco), Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles), Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego), Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley), Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont) and Das Williams (D-Santa Barbara).

According to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, California hospitals subject to this ballot initiative charged $233.8 billion in 2012 – even though their operating expenses were only $54.5 billion.

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Paid for by Yes for a Healthy California, sponsored and major funding by Service Employees International Union, United Health Care Workers West. Additional major funding by State Council of Service Employees Issues Committee.

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