NEWS: SEIU-UHW Members and Catholic Healthcare West Unite in Bakersfield to Preserve Medi-Cal Funding

Fight to Protect Vital Funding for Vulnerable Californians

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, November 14, 2011
Contact: Carlyn Foster, (510) 541-0931, SEIU-UHW
Contact: Tricia Griffin, (415) 438-5524, CHW
Contact: Jennifer Kelly, (213) 300-3336, SEIU-UHW

Bakersfield, CA—SEIU United Healthcare Workers West members, Catholic Healthcare West, doctors, patients and healthcare workers stood together at a joint press conference Monday 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 very dear friend of 20 years struggles with morbid obesity, psychiatric problems, heart problems, has a pacemaker, and suffers from asthma. She lives on a fixed income with Medicare as her only health insurance,” said Joella Martina, a transcription coordinator at Bakersfield Memorial Hospital’s Department of Pathology. “If cuts to Medi-Cal and Medicare are realized, the affect on my friend’s life would be disastrous because of her complicated health issues.”

“These cuts won’t only have a devastating impact to family and friends, but to healthcare facilities everywhere,” said Michael Carter, a contract specialist at Mercy Hospital of Bakersfield. “People will lose jobs and quality patient care will be threatened. We cannot let this happen.”

“As a member of the largest private safety-net provider in California, we see in tangible ways how Medicare and Medi-Cal are meeting the health care needs of our neighbors and family members,” said Jon Van Boening, President and CEO of Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and Senior Vice President of the Central Valley Service Area for Catholic Healthcare West.  “Together, our hospitals provided over $55 million in community benefits and charity care.  In total, CHW hospitals provided $1.4 billion,” said Van Boening.

“While we recognize the serious fiscal pressures facing our nation, we believe hospitals and the healthcare field should not be the target for significant reductions. It would be counterproductive to communities’ economic recovery,” said Russell Judd, President and CEO of Mercy Hospital of Bakersfield. “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 Judd.

Today’s event is the third in a series of actions statewide where SEIU-UHW healthcare members are joining with Catholic Healthcare West, healthcare providers, patients and advocates to protect Medicare and Medi-Cal. Actions will continue in California 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.


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

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

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