PA Weekly: Opponents gear up for battle over health care

Measure F would put Palo Alto City Hall in charge of regulating medical costs

by Gennady Sheyner / Palo Alto Weekly


On May 22, Palo Alto officials found themselves in the middle of a high-stakes battle that no one in City Hall signed up for, one that could have an impact on anyone providing or receiving health care in Palo Alto.

That's when a packet of more than 3,500 signatures arrived at the desk of City Clerk Beth Minor, ensuring that Measure F would appear on the November ballot.

Depending on whom you talk to, Measure F will either ensure quality health care in Palo Alto or force doctors, dentists and optometrists into permanent exile from the city.

It will either burden Palo Alto taxpayers with a new bureaucracy that could cost up to $2 million a year to administer or save them money by containing staggering health care costs.

Proponents say the initiative's aim is to pressure Stanford Health Care, which they claim is plagued by high infection rates, to shape up. Opponents say it seeks to pressure Stanford Health Care, one of the nation's leading medical institutions, to stand down while the measure's chief sponsor, the Service Employees International Union-United Health Workers, organizes employees at Stanford facilities throughout the Bay Area.

There is one thing that everyone agrees on: If it passes, the measure will transform both Palo Alto's local health care and City Hall, which today struggles to administer a simple business registry but which next year may find itself in charge of regulating the complex health care industry.