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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…
Bay Area Sutter RNs Begin One-Day Strike
Hospital Giant Seeks Massive Cuts Despite $4 Billion in Profits
Nurses to Also Protest Sutter Plans to Close Hospitals, Cut Care
Registered nurses are on strike today at eight hospitals that are part of the wealthy Sutter corporate chain to protest Wall Street-type demands for more than 100 sweeping reductions in patient care and nurses’ standards and workplace conditions.
The nurses, members of the California Nurses Association, National Nurses United, offered to call off the strike if Sutter agreed to withdraw the concession demands.
Some 4,500 RNs, as well as respiratory and radiology techs, are affected by the walkout at Alta Bates Summit Medical Center facilities in Berkeley and Oakland, Mills-Peninsula Health Services hospitals in Burlingame and San Mateo, Eden Medical Center in Castro Valley, San Leandro Hospital, Sutter Delta in Antioch, Sutter Solano in Vallejo, Novato Community Hospital, and Sutter Lakeside.
Despite making over $4 billion in profits since 2007, and paying its chief executive Pat Fry $4.7 million a year (or $2,260 per hour), Sutter is demanding big cuts for its RNs, many of which would pose risks to patient safety. Among Sutter’s demands are proposals that would effectively force nurses to work when sick, dangerously exposing already fragile patients to infection and further complications; thousands of dollars in increased costs to nurses for health coverage for themselves and their families; forcing many nurses to work in hospital units for which they do not have clinical expertise, posing a risk to patients, and huge cuts for nurses who work part time schedules. Read more…
After the gift basket lady from Rehab X left me with stroke-related and other assorted take-aways, a Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA), which had her name and her title right on her tag, helped me into bed because I couldn’t help myself. She left right away and, it seemed, she couldn’t get away fast enough. I wondered, does everybody treat stroke patients this way? Not even a “hi, how are you?” or “what good weather we’re having.” The CNA offered nothing.
I didn’t know what a CNA was, but I found out soon enough. They were the people who give showers, brushed hair and teeth, cleaned up urine and poop, helped with the meals, and a couple of other activities, in no particular order.
It soon became obvious: there were not enough CNAs at Rehab X to go around, or they were hiding and didn’t want to be found. If I had to guess, the typical CNA was overworked and underpaid, so I think they were hiding. There were about five places a CNA could hide and not be found for much of the day.
How do I know? To everyone else but a select few, I appeared to be a non-talker, which I was, and a non-thinker. But I was thinking all the time, and it was sort of like being in disguise. They couldn’t see my brain clicking or watch the smoke coming from my ears, as the cliches went. And that was one of the ways I got by–fooling the CNAs, on the one hand, by being mostly brainless, and, on the other, observing everything, even things I didn’t want to see. Read more…
Must Have Mobile App. Nov. 3 Day of Action. Presidential Candidate Pop Quiz. 15 Minutes. Fall Flu Fashion Show.
I think we made a mistake. You know how sometimes when you gain a few extra pounds you feel like you have to let the seams out of your clothes? Well, this week on Nurse Talk we had so many topics we wanted to share we got a little carried away and packed the show to the point of bursting our time clock!
We visited with two of our friends from CNA/NNU (California Nurses Association, National Nurses United) RN/Communications Specialist Liz Jacobs, and Colette Washington, On-Line Communication Specialist. Colette shared about a new mobile app that NNU has created that makes it possible to be involved in shaping national and international policy and politics without leaving the comfort of your own home. Check it out by texting the word “payback” to 53000 from your mobile phone.
AND Casey and Dan talk with author and EMT Kim Kircher. Kim has written a book called The Next 15 Minutes: Strength From the Top of the Mountain. When she wasn’t rescuing wounded skiers as a member of the ski patrol or bombing snow-congested mountainsides to control avalanches, she and her husband, John, were proving to the world that a full life was possible in spite of each living with an autoimmune disorder. Kim shares her inspiring story with us.
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.
And in studio Casey and Dan welcome RN Laurie Barkin. Laurie is a psychiatric nurse consultant at San Francisco General and has written a fascinatingly vivid account about her twenty years as an elite psychiatric trauma nurse treating San Francisco’s most complicated cases and how treating the trauma of others affects caregivers.
For more about the drunk Swedish moose and fake bomb threat, you have to tune in to the show…
Caring for those in need includes standing up for patients against corporate greed and disinterest in the human costs of cuts in staffing and services. There are 23,000 nurses on the street for theCalifornia Kaiser and Sutter Health strike doing just that. We’re with them.
We’re rewinding our show with Boston RN Karen Higgins, past president of Massachusetts Nurses Association and one of three co-presidents for National Nurses United who talks about nurse activism. Corporate health care is looking at the bottom line but they aren’t seeing it. Nurses face the results of cost cutting up close every day. Karen says, “When hospitals feel the need to save money, the first place they cut unfortunately are the ones who take care of patients and the vast majority of who that is, is nurses…Patient care suffers and patients suffer.”
Karen also shares her views on the continuing need for single payer health care in our country, the urgency regarding nurse-patient ratios and other important issues that affect all of us. It seems the hospitals are looking at more ways to cut staffing (this is in the face of a health care crisis) in preparation for Obama Care kicking in. Is it really Obama Care of is it just one more way to continue to make huge profits on the backs of hard working RNs and health care workers?
AND some great advice about taking care of your parents or other elderly loved ones. Kira Reginato joins us. Kira is the president of Living Ideas for Elders and is the host of her own radio show on KSRO, The Elder Care Show in Santa Rosa, California. 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.
Tell Congress: Don’t Cut OUR Social Security and Medicare!Call your U.S. Senator today!Our friends at National Nurses United, the California Nurses Association and the Massachusetts Nurses Association ask us all to please remember to call Congress and the White House on Tuesday, November 30 to protect Social Security and Medicare.The co-chairs of a presidential commission are promoting a plan to cut the deficit at the expense of working people, seniors, widows, orphans, and people with disabilities. Don’t let them.Before the full commission even gets a chance to vote on the deal on Dec. 1, please join us in calling Congress and the White House.This plan would raise the retirement age, reduce benefits for middle-class workers, and cut COLAs after retirement – dramatically reducing benefits for the oldest retirees. It would also reduce Medicare to a voucher program. Don’t be mislead, these programs are currently on sound financial footing and are never allowed to contribute to the deficit.RNs can’t wait longer to retire when they are already overworked and are lifting an average of 1.8 tons a day. We can’t take any benefit cuts when employers continually try to reduce hard-earned pension benefits.”The proposal from the two chairmen of the ‘catfood commission’ makes no sense on its own terms,” says NNU Co-president Deborah Burger, RN. “Congresswoman Schakowsky’s proposal strengthens Social Security, taxes the wealthy, and invests in jobs.” Please make your voice heard now.What you can do:Join in Nov. 30, National Call-in Day to Congress. We want to flood Capitol Hill with thousands of calls, so please join, and call your senators and representative in Congress, 866-529-7630.Call the White House, 202-456-1414.Write a letter to your local newspaper. Read more…
By Juliet WilliamsAssociated PressAugust 27, 2010Hundreds of union members celebrating the 90th anniversary of women’s suffrage rallied Thursday at the state Capitol, holding signs that said “Women vote for women who vote” an attack on the state’s first female Republican nominee for governor.The signs were criticizing the abysmal voting record of former eBay chief executive Meg Whitman, who has acknowledged that she failed to vote for most of her adult life. The rally was organized by the California Nurses Association, a vocal Whitman critic.Many marchers wore wide-brimmed hats adorned with flowers, long skirts and high necklines, in reference to the attire of the era of suffragettes. While some speeches focused on the struggles women went through to secure the passage of the 19th amendment to the U.S. Constitution, other speakers touched on a modern political issue: the upcoming November election.A group of California Teachers Association members chanted “Teachers vote without fail, California’s not for sale.”Whitman, a billionaire businesswoman, has contributed $104 million to her campaign to date, breaking all previous state spending records.At a campaign event Thursday in the City of Industry, Whitman called the rally a distraction from the most pressing issues facing the state.”That is the union bosses trying to distract from the fact that I will go to Sacramento and I will change Sacramento,” she said. “I will get the public pension under control. I will fix our K-12 education system. So in my view, my voting record isn’t perfect, but the main issue here is how are we going to turn California around, and I think I have a plan.”Whitman has been a vocal critic of public employee unions, which largely support her Democratic challenger, state Attorney General Jerry Brown. Read more…
COMING UP ON NURSE TALK……..CHECK PLEASE….Meg Whitman + $100 million = YIKES…please don’t let the trend of buying your way into office get even bigger and more common. Casey and Dan try to help California governator hopeful, Meg spend her money in what they think are more meaningful ways…well, I know that is totally subjective!
ARE YOU READY FOR THIS? YOU ARE YOUR OWN GYM! That’s right you can be your own gym according to super trainer Mark Lauren who has just written the “bible” on sensible low impact workouts that you can do at home, with no equipment and relative calm. If you are anything like we are …this sounds like a good alternative to “macho man” at the gym. Mark has some great tips and workouts and you can pick up his book by going to the Nurse Talk Must Read Bookstore.
AND DON’T forget….Boston here we come! Nurse Talk will make its debut in Boston ( one of our favorite cities) after Labor Day on 50K watt station WWZN 1510 AM. A big thank you to our friends at the Massachusetts Nurses Association and of course California Nurses Association and NNU for making it possible to bring you Nurse Talk in expanded markets. And coming up next week a very compelling discussion on workplace violence in hospitals and other health care facilities. We are joined by RN’s Karen Coughlin and Linda Conlin for a very compelling look at what is happening in our hospitals.Remember you can listen…to Nurse Talk every Sunday at 2PM PST on Green 960AM or live stream at green960.com. Read more…