SEIU Puts $3M Into Ballot Fight With California Hospitals

In another sign that a 2014 truce is in danger, a powerful union for health care workers has launched a $3 million fund that could fund a new ballot battle with hospitals.

Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West says it still has an agreement with the California Hospital Association to work on issues like Medi-Cal financing. “We are just preparing for all potential situations,” spokesman Sean Wherley said in an email.

One of those options apparently includes moving ahead with a proposed November ballot initiative that would limit CEO pay, regulate charity care and cap hospital prices. The union dropped a similar effort in 2014 when it announced a “visionary agreement” with hospitals to jointly address issues of cost, efficiency and quality of care. A decision to turn up the heat with initiatives suggests the partnership is on the ropes or worse.

The political fund is dedicated to making sure hospitals meet their responsibility to provide the best and most efficient care to patients and meet their responsibility to the health of the community, SEIU says.

The fund could be used to oppose other measures. A bid to make a hospital fee program permanent and another to raise taxes, in part, to fund health care services, “potentially put billions of dollars at the disposal of hospital executives with little accountability around access, affordability and quality,” SEIU said in a news release announcing the $3 million political fund.

The hospital association blasted efforts to restart the initiatives when action on the CEO pay measure started in November, but officials have yet to publicly call it quits on the partnership.

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