The Mercury News: Patient cost initiative won’t lower hospital bills, opponents say

The Mercury News

September 6, 2018

Union-backed measure on November ballot aims to restrict hospital

A group fighting an initiative to restrict patient costs in Palo Alto claims that the measure would not lower hospital bills, but force the city to increase taxes or reduce services and even spur healthcare providers to relocate elsewhere.

C. Duane Dauner, director for the No on Measure F Coalition which is backed by local hospitals, said the initiative would not reduce costs to patients with private insurance or force insurers to issue rebates to patients who are charged too much for their care. The real reason the union is pushing the initiative is to boost membership, he said, adding that it will actually lead to hospital layoffs.

“Who wins under this initiative?” Dauner said. “The answer is nobody.”

The Palo Alto Accountable and Affordable Health Care Initiative, or Measure F — sponsored by Services Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West (SEIU-UHW) — would limit the amount that Stanford Hospital, Palo Alto Medical Foundation and other health care providers can charge patients to no more than 15 percent above the actual cost of providing care. The city would be required to regulate, administer and enforce any fines against healthcare providers, according to the city attorney.