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When it comes to fighting rising health care costs, California may be ground zero. That’s where the nation’s largest health workers’ union is pushing two ballot measures aimed at limiting how much hospitals and doctors can charge.
The measures are sponsored by Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West and will appear on ballots in Palo Alto and Livermore. As Kaiser Health News reports, both measures take direct aim at Stanford Health Care, the system that operates the Stanford Hospital and Clinics.
Stanford Hospital (along with Sacred Heart Medical Center in Oregon) was called out in a 2016 study as one of the most profitable non-profit hospitals in the country because of revenues from patient care.
“I’ve been in this field almost 50 years, and I’ve never seen a local government regulating hospital prices,” Paul Ginsburg, director of public policy at the University of Southern California Schaeffer Center for Health Policy & Economics, told Kaiser reporters.
DaVita, a dialysis provider that controls one-third of a growing market, could see its revenues drop by $450 million a year if the California measure passes
The union is also sponsoring a statewide ballot measure, Proposition 8, which would cap profits for dialysis clinics. DaVita, a dialysis provider that controls one-third of a growing market, could see its revenues drop by $450 million a year if the California measure passes, according to a separate Kaiser Health News report.
Both Stanford and dialysis clinics say the measures threaten quality patient care. They would also likely face court challenges if they passed. Still, they are a sign that people are tired of skyrocketing health care costs often driven by consolidation of hospitals and health care systems. In other words, fewer competitors create an environment where health care providers can charge more.
Has your local doctor’s office or hospital consolidated with a bigger player? Did your costs rise? Share your stories with Voices for Affordable Health.