May 30, 2013

Last-Ditch Cosmetic Changes Don’t Change Harmful Consequences of AB 975
Nurses Union Misleads Lawmakers to Sustain Political Attack By C. Duane Dauner President/CEO California Hospital Association With just hours left to prolong their political attack against nonprofit hospitals, the nurses’ union (e.g. California Nurses Association) has yet again amended Assembly Bill 975. The union’s last-ditch effort to save its bill is nothing more than a desperate effort to mislead legislators into thinking they are addressing a real policy problem. The latest amendments — the fourth series of changes since the bill was introduced in February — makes reference to school-based clinics and proposes to delay implementation of the legislation for a year. These changes are nothing more than cosmetic modifications and do nothing to change the fact that the bill conflicts with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and would cost the state millions of dollars to implement. AB 975 is opposed by a statewide bipartisan coalition of organizations, including SEIU-UHW, the California Chamber of Commerce, the California Hospital Association, California Association of Physician Groups and community organizations including Boys & Girls Club of Greater Sacramento, the Orange County Medical Association, Cancer Support Community Redondo Beach and WEAVE, Inc. The nurses’ union has been trying for months to justify keeping AB 975 alive, publicly using words like transparency and accountability. Serial amendments cannot obscure the fact that nonprofit hospitals today provide hundreds of millions of dollars in community benefits like cancer research, diabetes screening, children’s health care and burn units that have saved firefighters’ lives. Nonprofit hospitals must reinvest every dollar above expenses into the local community – investments that could be threatened by AB 975. The union’s attempt to unreasonably restrict the state’s definition of charity care has no basis in fact. Current law holds nonprofit hospitals accountable to ensure they operate under the requirements to receive tax-exempt status. The law also already requires full transparency by — more —


nonprofit hospitals. Community benefit plans, which include charity care investments, must be updated every year to ensure they address issues in real time, are public and available for inspection. The California State Auditor last year released a report noting that nonprofit hospitals are complying with all federal and state laws regarding tax-exempt status. AB 975 supporters are misrepresenting this report, which did not directly call for any changes to current law absent legislative prerogative. California’s current law is the model for the ACA’s community benefit and charity care guidelines. AB 975 would compromise the hospitals’ ability to meet local health care needs and, according to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development, compliance would cost the state millions of dollars. AB 975 would severely compromise a nonprofit hospital’s ability to expand services and meet the needs of its community. When the ACA is implemented next January, at least four million Californians may be able to obtain health care coverage for the first time, meaning significant new demands for health care services. Hospitals are facing the challenge of ensuring there are enough beds and services, and health care professionals, to meet this demand. AB 975 is nothing more than a “corporate campaign” attack against some nonprofit hospitals that the nurses’ union has targeted for its organizing activities. AB 975 must be defeated so that California can focus on the real work of implementing the ACA, not playing politics with people’s health care.

CONTACT: Jan Emerson-Shea (916) 552-7516

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