[March 16, 2016] LOS ANGELES – The campaign to rein in excessive compensation for hospital executives in California is proving so popular with voters that organizers behind a statewide ballot initiative announced today they have collected over 25 percent of the required signatures in just six weeks of talking with voters.
The California Secretary of State’s office confirmed receiving notification that 25 percent of the signatures have been collected, a notification that is required under a new law governing state ballot initiatives. The letter will trigger a legislative hearing.
“Salaries are out of control for too many hospital executives in California, and this ballot initiative is about holding them accountable to taxpayers,” said Easa Lewis, a Support Services Representative at Kaiser Permanente in San Francisco. “There’s no reason hospital executives should be receiving millions when the cost of healthcare is going up.”
Signature collection began Feb. 1. SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West, which is sponsoring the measure, plans to submit enough valid signatures to the California Secretary of State to qualify for the Nov. 8, 2016 ballot.
Under the initiative, the Hospital Executive Compensation Act of 2016, no executive, manager, or administrator at hospitals, hospital groups, hospital-affiliated medical foundations and physicians groups, or health care districts could receive more than $450,000 in annual salary and benefits. The figure is the same amount of salary and expenses allowed for the president of the United States.
Penalties for violating the initiative would include fines, revocation of tax-exempt status and the appointment of a representative of the California Attorney General to the boards of directors of non-profit corporations.
At the same time, healthcare workers are sponsoring state legislation to improve transparency of salaries and reporting requirements for hospital executives in California. AB 2467 would require hospitals to annually submit a report for every executive whose annual compensation exceeds $250,000 to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development.
Healthcare workers say hospital executives lack accountability to the public, pointing to Kaiser Permanente, a non-profit healthcare charitable provider that compensates dozens of its executives more than $1 million a year – up to $10 million. Hospitals in California receive $36 billion a year in taxpayer money from government health programs Medicare and Medicaid.