Health care providers petitioning hospital costs

image$21 for a single dose of Ibuprofen. $86 for an Ace Bandage. These are the prices hospitals all over the state are allegedly charging patients. And unionized health care workers and community leaders are not happy. Joanna Powers is a licensed vocational nurse at Western Medical Anaheim.

“The health care system is out of control, it’s out of control and we have to band together to put a stop to it,” Powers said.

The SEIU-United Healthcare Workers West has collected over 250,000 signatures in just one month in favor of two proposed initiatives.

The union needs 1.7 million signatures to get on the November 2012 ballot. It if succeeds, non-profit hospitals will give five percent of their patient revenue to healthcare for the needy in exchange for not paying federal, state and local taxes. Additionally, hospitals all over the state will charge no more than 25% of the actual cost of providing health care.

Dave Regan, President of the SEIU-United Health Care Workers West, said that in California alone, hospitals charge an average of 460% more than the actual cost of providing care.

“$21 aspirin, $151 for eye drops, $127 for lotion,” Regan said. “The cost for hospital care is getting beyond the means of far too many people in this state and we as health care workers want to do something about that.”

imageSome might argue that such drastic cuts would affect patient safety and care. Joanna Powers disagrees.

“I think that the hospital will be able to function as usual. They just won’t be making that big of a profit margin and they need to share the cost. These people need treatment and the hospitals need to pick up their share,” Powers said.

Centinela Hospital is owned by Prime Health Care Services. The union says on average Centinela patients are charged 789 percent of the hospital’s cost.

A spokesperson for Prime Health Care Services referred our call to the California Hospital Association, which was not available to comment by air time.

Controlling health care costs has been on the political agenda both nationally and in California. Regan says it’s time something is done.

“People get bills that bankrupt them. Medical debt is the leading cause of personal bankruptcy in the state of California,” Regan said.

Regan says that each day the union is adding 20,000 signatures to the petition and he is confident their initiative will appear on the November 20 ballot.