Union submits health care ballot measure

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by Betsy Earls
Associated Oregon Industries

As if the 10 tax increase proposals SEIU has already filed for November 2014 weren’t enough, the union may be adding up to five new ballot measures aimed directly at Oregon hospitals. The potential ballot measures are part of the SEIU’s Act Now for a Healthy Oregon initiative that “promotes access to quality, affordable health care for all Oregonians.” While no one would argue with the goal of providing high-quality, affordable health care for Oregonians, the manner and timing in which the initiatives seek to meet those goals are problematic.

The measures we expect to see include: charity care thresholds; requirements for uniform pricing; caps on executive compensation; and two transparency measures that require public postings of hospital charges and quality performance. Click here to view the summary of the proposed measures.

Right now, hospitals in every community have their hands full with the reality of implementing federal health care reform while continuing to provide high-quality care to patients. Hospitals are also committed to Oregon-specific health care transformation work. On top of all that, they are working hard to achieve the Oregon Health Policy Board’s “Triple Aim,” which includes directives to improve quality and access, and reduce cost. These are complex issues, and the timing of SEIU’s ballot measures is likely to create a serious distraction from the ongoing work to make both federal and state health reforms succeed.

The business community and the state will need to carefully analyze each measure filed in order to understand the impacts they will have on our communities and our communities’ ability to deliver health care. If we have learned anything from our colleagues in other states, who have faced similar ballot measures, it is that the motive and underlying objective behind these proposals is not always to genuinely improve access to health care, but rather to lay the groundwork for labor organizing.