[March 12, 2014] SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Health Access, one of California’s most prominent consumer advocacy groups, announced its support of a statewide ballot initiative that would reduce hospital prices in California. Health Access said the measure is one of the most sensible ways to bring down costs and improve healthcare access in the state.
“Anybody who has ever seen a hospital bill has been shocked and puzzled for good reason, because hospitals admit that their charges have no relation to the cost of care, or frankly anything else,” said Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access California. “Because hospitals are vital institutions in our community, we have allowed charges that no other industry could get away with. This initiative takes an important step toward needed reform.”
Founded in 1987, Health Access is a statewide coalition of nearly 100 community and constituency organizations that is a leader in healthcare reform. It has successfully advanced several laws, including one that prevents hospitals from charging uninsured patients more than three to four times what insured patients pay for the same treatment.
The ballot measure is sponsored by members of SEIU-UHW, the state’s largest union of hospital and other healthcare workers, and would reduce hospital charges by more than $3.4 billion a year. Signature gatherers are working across the state to qualify the measure for the November 2014 ballot.
The 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.
To date, 20 state legislators have endorsed the initiative:
- Sen. Jim Beall (D-San Jose)
- Sen. Mark DeSaulnier (D-Concord)
- Sen. Noreen Evans (D-Santa Rosa)
- Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley)
- Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens)
- Sen. Mark Leno (D-San Francisco
- Sen. Ted Lieu (D-Torrance)
- Sen. Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima)
- Assemblymember Tom Ammiano (D-San Francisco)
- Assemblymember Rob Bonta (D-Alameda)
- Assemblymember Nora Campos (D-San Jose)
- Assemblymember Cristina Garcia (D-Bell Gardens)
- Assemblymember Jimmy Gomez (D-Los Angeles)
- Assemblymember Lorena Gonzalez (D-San Diego)
- Assemblymember Richard Pan (D-Sacramento)
- Assemblymember Bill Quirk (D-Hayward)
- Assemblymember Anthony Rendon (D-Lakewood)
- Assemblymember Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley)
- Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont)
- Assemblymember 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.