UHW airs new TV ad in Alameda County supporting lower healthcare costs

[March 18, 2014] PLEASANTON, Calif.Healthcare workers continued their public awareness campaign about excessive pricing and executive compensation in California hospitals with new cable television ads that will air for two weeks in Alameda County.

The 30-second ad spotlights non-profit Valleycare Medical Center in Pleasanton for grossly overcharging for medical products and paying its CEO an exorbitant salary. On average, the hospital charges 390 percent above its actual costs, including $196 for a bag of intravenous solution and $61 for a pregnancy test, while paying its CEO more than $1 million. All figures are drawn from the California Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.

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 Alameda County residents will agree that non-profit hospitals shouldn’t be allowed to pay their CEOs more than half a million dollars and charge ridiculous prices for the most basic medical services,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “The mission of Valleycare Medical Center is to serve the community, but its current actions show just how much it’s lost sight of that responsibility. We plan to put them back on track by passing these ballot measures.”

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 20 state legislators, including Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Berkeley) and Assemblymembers Rob Bonta (D-Alameda), Bill Quirk (D-Hayward), Nancy Skinner (D-Berkeley) and Bob Wieckowski (D-Fremont).

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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