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Many private nonprofit California hospitals, especially those that are part of big corporate chains like Sutter and Kaiser Permanente appear to be exploiting their tax-exempt status by accumulating huge profits, and handing top execs massive pay packages while providing scant charity care in return.
That’s the finding of a new report by the Institute for Health and Socio-Economic Policy, research arm of the California Nurses Association/National Nurses United, that was presented Wednesday in a Sacramento legislative hearing.
The nurses urged legislators to pass legislation to rein in the abuses by requiring minimum levels of charity care that all hospitals must provide to keep their tax exempt status, as well as more rigorous reporting requirements with real penalties attached for violators.
The findings were presented to a special California Senate Select Committee on Charity Care and Nonprofit Hospitals chaired by State Sen. Ellen Corbett.
In California, non-profit hospitals harvested more than $1.8 billion in government subsidies and benefits from their tax exempt status beyond what they provided in charity care in 2010.
The impact is especially severe on struggling cities and counties. They lose more than $1 billion as a result of the tax exemption of nonprofit hospitals, and what local governments pay directly to hospitals in their communities to provide hospital care for the poor.
Shockingly, many non-profit hospitals actually provide “significantly less” charity care than do for-profit hospitals, State Board of Equalization member Betty Yee said at the hearing.
Several of the state’s biggest and best known hospitals, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, Stanford University Hospital, and Sutter Health’s California Pacific Medical Center and Alta Bates Medical Center, are the biggest abusers in racking up government subsidies in the form of favorable tax benefits beyond what they give back in charity care. Read more…
Carolyn is just one of the people nurses and the Campaign for a Healthy California has talked to about healthcare. Carolyn knew she was having a heart attack but was afraid to go to the hospital. She thought it might be better to die than to saddle her sons with the burden of her medical bills. Fortunately she survived, but Caroline is 135,000 dollars in debt to health “care”.
The audience at our Town Hall meeting to discuss Medicare for All was distressed by Carolyn’s story, but not entirely shocked. Nurses are hearing many of these kinds of stories as we travel through California asking the public to “Tell Us Where it Hurts.”
Find out more including the bus tour schedule here:
Welcome to Nurse Talk. Hope you are all having a wonderful summer. This week Casey and Shayne take an emergency call from a listener named Ginger. Ginger has a—shall we say—“burning” question and some important advice for our listeners who might just be inclined to do what she did! We’re pretty sure Ginger is not the only one who has ever done this…but we know she won’t do it again! Check it out. Thanks Ginger.
And from the Patient Advocate Desk—our friend and frequent guest RN and healthcare activist DeAnn McEwen talks about life-saving RN-Patient Ratios and what you need to know when you go to a hospital.
It seems the California Hospital Association and United Healthcare West are pushing a proposal to allow all California hospitals to suspend compliance with the life-saving 2004 RN Patient Ratio law. Read more…
And healthy without health insurance? Protect yourself says Dr. Mathew Edlund. A countdown to healthcare as we know it. Some would say it is a real stretch to claim that if you just use the amazing and innovative technology of the human body and its incredible regenerative powers you can be healthy. What do you say? Read more…
And Casey and Shayne visit with Joyce Hoffman. You may remember Joyce was our Golden Bed Pan Award winner a few weeks back. IN APRIL OF 2009 in the middle of the night, at age 51—Joyce’s life changed forever. She had a stroke.
Nurses are traveling throughout California to promote Medicare for All. Nurses are on the front lines every day with patients who cannot afford care. Now President Obama’s Affordable Care Act mandates that people buy health insurance, but the insurance companies are still in charge, able to set rates and deny procedures. Nurses in California support an improved Medicare for All, with everybody in, nobody out of health care.
Find out more at:
Click on the big red bus for a tour schedule and info on how you can get involved. Read more…
Walkout to Target Bay Area Sutter Hospitals, Long Beach Memorial
Nurses Cite Patient Care Issues, Cuts in Healthcare Coverage
Nurses are poised to hold a one-day strike at California’s second largest private hospital, and one of its most profitable corporate hospital chain December 22.
The strike will affect 2,000 RNs at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center and Miller Children’s Hospital in Long Beach, and 4,000 RNs who work at eight Bay Area hospitals that are part of the Sutter corporation.
Long Beach RNs have been at odds with hospital management for months over assuring there is safe RN-to-patient staffing at all times. The nurses will also protest hospital demands for sweeping increases in healthcare premiums for nurses. The health care takeaway the hospital is pushing would cost RNs nearly $3,000 more out of pocket in premium costs.
“Nurses are tired of having to fight everyday to protect their patients because of speed up and cost cutting measures,” said Long Beach RN Margie Keenan.
“We are finding it harder to give the quality care we want to give when our employer, like insurance companies, is only focused on the bottom line,” said Keenan. “This undermines our ability to deliver safe patient care. Our serious safety concerns have not been answered at the bargaining table and we will not be able to reach an agreement until they are addressed. Patients are more important than the bottom line.”
For the Sutter hospitals, this will be the second work stoppage following a one-day strike in September that was prompted by nearly 200 demands for major contract concessions made by the hospital giant despite amassing over $3.7 billion in profits since 2005. Read more…
Deborah Burger on California Nurses’ Strike at Sutter and Kaiser | National Nurses United Sponsored Segment | Show 423
When Nurses are on the Outside There’s Something Wrong Inside
There was big news last week with the nurses strike in Northern California. Over 23,000 nurses took part in the one day strike against Sutter and Kaiser hospitals. Tragically as we spoke with RN and co-president of National Nurses United Deborah Burger, a patient at Sutter’s Alta Bates Summit Medical Center died due to a medical error while under the care of a replacement nurse. Though this was a one-day strike, Sutter refused to let the nurses come back to work for another four days, putting patients in further jeopardy. Read more…
Read California Healthline’s roundup of last Wednesday’s successful vote on SB 810:
Friday, May 06, 2011
Senate Health Committee Moves Single-Payer Bill
by David Gorn
Many dozens of single-payer supporters crammed the Senate Committee on Health chambers on Wednesday for hearing on a bill that would set up a single-payer health system in California.
The supporters were respectful and emphatic as they all stepped, one by one, up to the microphone to voice their support for such a model. After all of the advocates took their turn and returned to their seats, Senate Health Committee Chair Ed Hernandez (D-West Covina) wanted to know if there were any more speakers, so he politely asked if there was anyone else in the audience who was in favor of the bill.
And a sea of hands went up, as nearly everyone in the audience spontaneously and quietly raised their hands.
That has been the history of single-payer legislation in California, with enthusiastic, almost fervid, support of it by many citizens and organizations in the state, but a tepid, almost embarrassed, reception by many lawmakers.
Here’s how Wednesday’s vote on SB 810 broke down:
YES – Ed Hernandez, Elaine Alquist, Kevin de Leon, Mark DeSaulnier, Lois Wolk
NO – Joel Anderson, Sam Blakeslee, Tony Strickland
Sen. Michael Rubio – who had said last week that he was going to vote no on the bill – curiously, abstained. Was the insurance industry breathing down his neck? Rubio’s office had said the senator believes the federal Affordable Care Act is good enough to help Californians. Read more…
Facing possible extinction for the first time in four years, the single payer bill SB 810 pulled through, passing the Senate Health Committee on Wednesday on a 5-3 vote, state Sen. Mark Leno’s office reported. Up until a couple of days ago, committee chair Sen. Ed Hernandez had been undecided, putting the bill in jeopardy. But intense pressure from single payer advocates across the state and a massive phone campaign finally secured a “yes” vote from Hernandez. In addition, hundreds of single payer supporters descended upon the Capitol in Sacramento to attend the hearing.
Leno’s office released the following statement after the vote:
“California is being overrun by out-of-control health care costs, which has a significant impact on the state budget, businesses and families,” said Senator Leno, D-San Francisco. “Our single payer plan not only guarantees universal coverage for all Californians, but also contains health care costs, which is essential to solving our state budget crisis in the long term.”
SB 810 creates a private-public partnership to provide every California resident medical, dental, vision, hospitalization and prescription drug benefits and allows patients to choose their own doctors and hospitals. This single payer, “Medicare for All” type of program works by pooling together the money that government, employers and individuals already spend on health care and putting it to better use by cutting out the for-profit middle man.
“We must continue to fight for healthcare for every Californian,” said DeAnn McEwen, President of the California Nurses Association and a nurse at Long Beach Memorial Medical Center.
The California Nurses Association is reporting that State Sen. Ed Hernandez has decided to vote in favor of SB 810 at tomorrow’s Senate Health Committee hearing. Up until now, Hernandez, the committee’s chair, had been undecided. This is terrific news. Obviously, the efforts from single payer advocates around California urging voters to call his office helped him make up his mind. This bill needs to get out of committee to survive and reach the entire Senate floor.
To thank Sen. Hernandez, his contact information is below:
Ed Hernandez (District 24 – Los Angeles)State Capitol, Room 4085, Sacramento, CA 95814 Telephone: (916) 651-4024; Fax: (916) 445-0485 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org 149 South Mednik Avenue, Suite 202, Los Angeles, CA 90022 Telephone: (323) 881-0100 14403 E. Pacific Avenue, #327, Baldwin Park, CA 91706 Telephone: (626) 337-2760
However, State Sen. Michael Rubio is still leaning toward voting “no.” He believes the federal health reform law is good enough for Californians. He needs to hear from voters, especially his constituents who live in the Central Valley, that we can do better.
Michael Rubio (District 16 – Fresno, Kings, Tulare, Kern)State Capitol, Room 2066, Sacramento, CA 95814 Telephone: (916) 651-4016; Fax: (916) 327-5989 Email: email@example.com
2550 Mariposa Hall, Suite 2016, Fresno, CA 93721 Telephone: (559) 264-3070 1800 30th Street, Suite 350, Bakersfield, CA 93301 Telephone: (661) 395-2620
Pressure is building on two Democratic state Senators on the Senate Health Committee to get them to change their minds on the single payer health care bill, SB 810. The bill is scheduled for a hearing before the committee this Wednesday after being postponed from last week. Committee chairperson Sen. Ed Hernandez (Los Angeles) is publicly saying he has not decided how he will vote on the bill, while Sen. Michael Rubio (Fresno) has said he will vote “no.” If Hernandez also votes no, SB 810 will have died in the state Senate for the first time after having successfully passed the chamber the last three years. Last year, SB 810, sponsored by San Francisco-area state Sen. Mike Leno, passed the state Senate, but died in the Assembly.
The liberal grassroots advocacy group, Democracy for America, has sent out an alert to its membership calling on them to flood Hernandez and Rubio’s offices with phone calls:
“On Tuesday the Vermont Senate passed a bill that puts the Green Mountain State on the path to a single-payer health care system, and next week California’s Senate Health Committee has the same opportunity on May 4th. However, two Democratic senators could keep it from passing.
We’ve come too far for this bill to fail now. Can you call them and ask them to vote yes?
The Chair of the Health Committee, Senator Ed Hernandez, who voted for the single-payer bill as an Assemblymember is undecided. Call him now and tell him that a ‘yes’ vote is a vote for California’s future.