Healthcare Workers Submit Signatures to Qualify Palo Alto Ballot Measure to Stop Patient Overcharging

[May 23, 2018] PALO ALTO, Calif. – Healthcare workers submitted 3,506 signatures to city election officials to qualify a ballot initiative for the Nov. 6 election in Palo Alto that seeks to protect patients from being overcharged.

“The prices hospitals charge has gotten out of control,” said Charles Fonseca, a Certified Nursing Assistant at Stanford University Medical Center. “This initiative will make patients – not profits – the priority for healthcare providers in Palo Alto.”

The ballot initiative would limit certain medical facilities in the city from charging patients more than 15 percent above what it costs them to provide care. Currently, Stanford University Medical Center charges up to two, three, or four times more than the statewide average for some procedures.

If a healthcare facility exceeds 15 percent, it will be penalized and must refund the difference to the payer. Workers say the measure will make healthcare more affordable for patients, and encourage healthcare providers to invest more in improving staffing levels, purchasing new medical equipment and making facility improvements.

Within a few weeks of filing the signatures, the Palo Alto City Clerk is expected to announce the measure has enough signatures to proceed to the Nov. 6 ballot. Signatures for similar measures are expected to be filed in Redwood City and Livermore no later than May 31.

Stanford University Medical Center charges 264 percent more than the statewide average to treat a patient for alcohol or drug abuse, 141 percent more to treat a patient with chest pain and 120 percent more to treat a patient with kidney failure.

Despite these higher prices, Stanford University Medical Center struggles in certain aspects of patient care when compared to other hospitals in California and across the country. The number of patients acquiring infections at the hospital is so high that Medicare penalized the facility each of the last three years.

Stanford Health Care is a non-profit system that reported operating profits last year of $234 million, and reserves of more than $700 million.


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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