Elected Officials Endorse Watsonville Ballot Initiative to Limit Patient Overcharging

[March 13, 2018] WATSONVILLE, Calif. – Support for a Watsonville ballot initiative that would limit patient overcharging is growing as several elected officials recently endorsed the measure and organizers surpassed the 50 percent signature threshold needed to qualify for the Nov. 6 election.

“Watsonville families need access to affordable care, and no one should have to think twice about going to their local hospital just because it costs more than the facility down the road,” said Watsonville Mayor Lowell Hurst, who supports the initiative. “The problem is that Watsonville Community Hospital charges more than Dominican Hospital in Santa Cruz for some of the same services. The out of state corporate owners of Watsonville Community Hospital need to be held accountable.”

Other elected officials who support the initiative include Watsonville City Councilmembers Felipe Hernandez and Rebecca Garcia, Santa Cruz County Supervisors Greg Caput and Ryan Coonerty, Monterey County Supervisor Luis Alejo and San Benito County Supervisor Robert Rivas. The initiative is also endorsed by Watsonville Planning Commissioner Jenny Sarmiento and the Pajaro Valley Cesar Chavez Democratic Club.

The proposed ballot initiative would limit Watsonville Community Hospital and other medical facilities’ revenues to 15 percent above the cost of care. Any revenue above that amount would be refunded or subject to fines.

According to state records, Watsonville Community Hospital charges an average of $44,988 for a healthy baby delivery and $80,742 for treating a kidney infection, whereas Dominican Hospital charges an average of only $27,256 and $53,688, respectively.

Organizers need to collect the signatures of 1,791 registered Watsonville voters before April 16 to qualify the measure for the Nov. 6 election.

Paid for by Service Employees International Union United Healthcare Workers West Political Issues Committee, 560 Thomas L. Berkley Way, Oakland, CA 94612.

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