Editorial: No on Measure F, a disastrous idea

Stanford Hospital Emergency Department in 2013. Photo from Stanford Health Care.


Measure F on the Palo Alto ballot is a reckless attempt by a labor union, SEIU-UHW, to gain more bargaining power by reducing medical services available to residents.

The measure would limit the amount health care providers could charge to 115% of what the union believes those services should cost. Of course the union defines “costs” differently than major health care providers, such as Stanford Hospital.

Stanford believes Measure F will cut its operating revenues by 25% or $1 billion a year. That would force Stanford to lay off workers, eliminate departments and reduce the amount of care it provides to the poor.

Emergency care

It’s important to understand that higher charges in some areas of the hospital go to fund departments that lose money, like the emergency room. By law, emergency rooms have to treat anyone who walks in the door, whether they can pay or not. A lot of emergency room bills are written off.

Stanford operates the only Level 1 Trauma Center between San Francisco and San Jose, where ambulances rush accident victims. Stanford could save a lot of money by reducing the capabilities of its emergency department and sending badly injured patients to San Jose and San Francisco.

The union says this is just a scare tactic, but they haven’t said what they would cut if the hospital had to get by with 25% less revenue.

Stanford contends that SEIU-UHW put this on the ballot as retaliation because the hospital didn’t agree to a “neutrality clause” that would allow union organizers to recruit employees at Stanford facilities in Redwood City, Emeryville, Pleasanton and Livermore.

The union denies that, but it is clear that the union’s own members will suffer because hundreds of employees will be laid off and there won’t be money for raises when it’s time to negotiate the next contract.

Even dentists and psychiatrists

And while SEIU-UHW’s beef is with Stanford, Measure F would apply to the Palo Alto Medical Foundation, as well as all dentists, independent solo practitioner doctors, psychiatrists and optometrists in the city. Many of them will pack up and leave.

Measure F will also have a devastating impact on the city government, which will be forced into regulating medical costs. The city will have to add employees who will pore over the billing records of every medical provider in town.

No benefit to consumers

And Measure F won’t benefit consumers. Any charges over 115% would be rebated to the insurance companies, which are based out of state. Those companies would be under no obligation to pass those rebates on to consumers and wouldn’t do so voluntarily.

Measure F would be a disaster because it would reduce medical services available to residents in Palo Alto. Vote “no” on Measure F.

1 Comment

  1. If Measure F passes, say goodbye to charity care. Stanford Hospital will stop doing Medicare and Medi-Cal cases. The hospital will stop writing off the hospital bills of the poor. SEIU is unknowingly killing something the benefits low- and middle-income residents.

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