Healthcare Workers Crisscross the State Gaining Support for Initiatives to End Hospital Price Gouging, Increase Charity Ca

Caregivers and Community Leaders Start Signature Drive in Southern California at Centinela Hospital

LOS ANGELES--(BUSINESS WIRE)-- Healthcare workers are gaining momentum across the state and building broad consumer support for two ballot measures that will eliminate price gouging at hospitals and increase charity care for the needy.

Tuesday a team of healthcare workers gathered at Centinela Hospital in Inglewood and then dispatched throughout the community to gather signatures in support of two statewide ballot initiatives.

The Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2012 will prohibit hospitals from charging more than 25 percent above the actual cost of providing patient care and The Charity Care Act of 2012 sets the minimum level of charity care at 5 percent of patient revenue that nonprofit hospitals must spend on healthcare for the needy in exchange for not paying federal, state and local taxes.

At Centinela Hospital, owned by Prime Healthcare Services, on average patients are charged 789 percent of the hospital’s cost. For example, tear drops cost $151 for a small bottle, lotion is $127, soap is $50 and a bottle of hydrocortisone cream is $113.

“People have a lot of anxiety about the high cost of healthcare and now we know why bills are so high,” said Martha Alvarez, a certified nursing assistant at Prime-owned Centinela Hospital. “Hospitals are charging more than four times their costs and there’s no way patients can pay that much. People deserve hospital care that doesn’t leave them broke.”

Last week more than 100 healthcare workers and community leaders launched the signature drive in Sacramento in front of Sutter Medical Center. This week healthcare workers kicked it off in Southern California where a single dosage of Ibuprofen is $21 and an Ace bandage costs $86.

Healthcare workers must collect 1.7 million signatures to qualify the initiatives for the November 2012 election. In the first three weeks, they have collected more than 200,000 signatures.

“Healthcare workers are leading the charge to reduce healthcare costs in California,” said Dave Regan, president of SEIU-UHW. “We need a system that prioritizes quality healthcare and doesn’t take advantage of consumers by charging $21 for a single Advil.”

More information at

SEIU—United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) is the largest hospital and healthcare union in the western United States with more than 150,000 members. We unite every type of healthcare worker with a mission to achieve high-quality healthcare for all. SEIU-UHW is part of the 2.2 million-member Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the nation's fastest-growing union. Learn more at


Elizabeth Brennan, 213-999-2164
David Tokaji, 213-300-8892

KEYWORDS:   United States  North America  California

INDUSTRY KEYWORDS:   Health  Hospitals  Public Policy/Government  Healthcare Reform  Public Policy  State/Local  Nursing