For immediate release: October 10, 2011
Contact: David Tokaji, 213-300-8892
Elizabeth Brennan, 213-999-2164
SACRAMENTO, Calif. – Governor Brown remained committed to holding hospital owners accountable to patient safety and care in his message vetoing a bill (SB 408) related to hospital ownership.
“Hospital owners are not above the law,” said Martha Alvarez, a certified nursing assistant at Prime Healthcare-owned Centinela Hospital in Inglewood. “The governor and legislature have made it clear that they remain committed to patient safety over corporate greed.”
Senate Bill 408 would have closed a loophole in state law by forcing hospital buyers to obtain a new license from the California Department of Public Health before being allowed to operate a facility. Letters and phone calls flooded the governor’s office over the past several weeks from healthcare workers, advocates and seniors urging the bill’s passage. In his message vetoing the bill, Governor Brown indicated that his administration “will work with interested parties to find a better balance for state oversight of health facility ownership transactions.”
Prime Healthcare, a California hospital chain, is the poster child for the bill’s creation. Prime is under investigation for extremely high rates of septicemia, according to the LA Times. A probe by the California Department of Public Health resulted in referrals to state and federal agencies for investigation into possible Medicare and Medicaid fraud related to these high rates. The company was able to purchase Alvarado Hospital in San Diego last year without applying for a new hospital license by exploiting the loophole in existing state law.
Last month State Attorney General Kamala Harris rejected Prime Healthcare’s bid to purchase Victor Valley Community Hospital in Southern California. The Attorney General said that the deal was “not in the public interest” after hearing testimony from Prime patients and healthcare workers about the company’s questionable business practices.
Healthcare workers in Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) advocated strongly for the bill to protect safe, quality healthcare. Among the healthcare and other advocacy organizations that supported the passage of SB 408 are the Consumer Federation of California, Health Access, California Congress of Seniors and the California Alliance for Retired Americans.
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SEIU—United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation’s fastest-growing union. Learn more at www.seiu-uhw.org.