NEWS: SEIU-UHW Members and Catholic Healthcare West Unite in Los Angeles to Preserve Medicare Funding

Fight to Protect Vital Funding for Vulnerable Californians

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Friday, November 11, 2011
Contact: Carlyn Foster, (510) 541-0931, SEIU-UHW
Contact: Tricia Griffin, (415) 438-5524, CHW

Los Angeles, CA—SEIU United Healthcare Workers West members, Catholic Healthcare West, doctors, patients and healthcare workers stood together at a joint press conference Friday to call on Congress and the Super Committee to promote healthy communities and protect Medi-Cal and Medicare programs—funding that keeps California families, seniors and children healthy.

In a few short weeks, Congress will decide whether or not to cut $500 billion or more to Medicare and Medicaid. These huge cuts could affect hospitals and health caregivers’ ability to provide Californians with the care they need, and could cut numerous jobs in our community.

With record numbers of Americans unemployed or underemployed, more Americans are relying on Medicaid for their healthcare. More than one out of every seven Americans receives healthcare through Medicaid and tens of thousands of Californians with serious healthcare needs rely on Medi-Cal. Together Medicare and Medicaid (called Medi-Cal in California) provide funding for 51% of hospital care and 80% of nursing home care in California.

“My brother has suffered debilitating back problems. If it were not for Medicare, he would not be able to walk. He has long been the rock and support of my family and now the tables have turned: I support him,” said Marsha Richardson a SEIU-UHW member and patient care technician at California Hospital Medical Center. “Cuts to vital health service funding would be devastating to people like my brother and those who rely on it the most. We cannot forget the most vulnerable in our communities.”

“We see the impact of the nation’s current health system in our hospitals and clinics every day,” said Gerald B. Clute, President of California Hospital Medical Center. “Approximately 85 percent of the people we care for at our hospital are insured through Medicare and Medi-Cal. These programs are already underfunded and our hospitals are doing all they can to absorb cuts to provider payments. Together, our LA hospitals provided over $200 million in community benefits and charity care and CHW hospitals provided a total of $1.4 billion,” said Clute. “As a member of the largest private safety-net provider in California, we have a responsibility to our community to speak out on behalf of our patients and our neighbors. We urge Congress to put the economic and health care needs of our communities first and protect critical funding for the healthcare safety net,” said Clute.

“We are facing more than a financial crisis in America today – we are facing a moral crisis,” said Dr. Jim Mangia, MD, CEO of St. John’s Well Child & Family Center. “The proposed cuts to Medicaid will undermine not only health reform but will cut the legs off of our economic recovery. And it will show a profound moral failure of the American government to care for its most vulnerable – children, seniors and people with disabilities.”

Today’s event was the second in a series of actions statewide where SEIU-UHW healthcare members are joining with healthcare providers, patients and advocates to protect Medicare and Medi-Cal. The next event is Nov. 14 in Bakersfield. Actions will continue in Calif. and nationally as Congress considers action.

Catholic Healthcare West and SEIU-UHW are working together to promote healthy communities and create – not cut – healthcare jobs to strengthen our economy.

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About SEIU-UHW

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.

About Catholic Healthcare West
Catholic Healthcare West (CHW), headquartered in San Francisco, CA, is a system of 40 hospitals and medical centers in California, Arizona, and Nevada. Founded in 1986, it is one of the nation’s largest not-for-profit health care systems and the largest private hospital system in California. CHW is committed to delivering compassionate, high-quality, affordable health care services with special attention to the poor and underserved. The CHW network of nearly 10,000 physicians and approximately 55,000 employees provides health care services to more than five million people annually. In 2011, CHW provided more than $1.4 billion in charity care, community benefit, and unreimbursed patient care. For more information, please visit our website at www.chwHEALTH.org.

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