In Prime deal, two major California unions on opposite sides

Controversy over Prime Healthcare's bid to acquire six struggling California hospitals in the Daughters of Charity Health System has pitted two of the state's most powerful unions against one another, the Los Angeles Times reports.

State Attorney General Kamala Harris is expected to make a decision on the proposed $843 million acquisition this week, and the California Nurses Association (CNA) has come out strongly in favor of the sale, with CNA nurses picketing Harris' Sacramento office to urge her to approve it, the newspaper states.

CNA members fear the financially struggling hospitals will close without the sale, costing thousands of jobs and reducing underserved communities' access to care. CNA President Deborah Burger told the publication that the hospitals could potentially close by the end of the month if the deal does not go through. Robert Issai, CEO of Daughters of Charity, told the Times that the hospitals up for sale lose more than $10 million a month and will face bankruptcy if Harris rejects the sale.  

But the SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West union, a longtime foe of Prime founder Prem Reddy, M.D., reasserted its opposition to the deal, stating it will lead to deep cuts and reduced services, which Reddy's critics say is a major part of his leadership strategy.

"[For CNA] to jump in the boat with Prime and just be shilling for them, I think, is shameful," Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW told the Times. SEIU-UHW has also accused Prime of overbilling Medicare for services, which is the subject of an ongoing Justice Department investigation.

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