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About this blog: I am a native of Alameda County, grew up in Pleasanton and currently live in the house I grew up in that is more than 100 years old. I spent 39 years in the daily newspaper business and wrote a column for more than 25 years in add...  (More)

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Health care cost measure is a mess in Livermore

Uploaded: Aug 30, 2018
Livermore voters will face an initiative on the Nov. 6 ballot that simply should not be decided by voters.
Measure U asks voters give the city the authority to regulate health care costs and ensure that they do not exceed 15 percent of the “reasonable cost of direct patient care.”
The initiative was circulated by the Service Employees International Union Healthcare Workers West. The union gathered enough signatures to require the City Council to either put it on the ballot or adopt the measure. Palo Alto voters face a similar measure, while the union dropped the measure in Pleasanton when it failed to gather enough signatures. Here’s wishing that Livermore voters paid a bit more attention before signing the petitions.
This is not a local measure. It should be debated in the Legislature, as frightening as that thought is (remember, the state Senate passed a single-payer health care plan last year that was devoid of any details or funding mechanism—fortunately Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon acted like an adult and never brought the measure forward).
That said, the SEIU healthcare workers long have targeted Stanford Health Care-Valley to try and organize the workers. It’s no accident that Stanford’s home, Palo Alto, has a similar measure.
The city challenged the petition in court, but Judge Kimberly L. Colwell denied the city’s request to keep the measure off the ballot. The Kaiser Foundation, Stanford/Valley Care, the California Hospital Association and the American Hospital Association all submitted briefs supporting the city’s position.
If voters approve the measure (look for some hefty campaign expenditures from local hospitals and health care providers), it requires the city to allocate money from the general fund to allow the Community Development Dept. to gather the information, evaluate it, determine if rebates are required and then make the information publicly available.
The city’s analysis of the measure estimated annual costs of $1.9 million after $750,000 of set-up costs.
While the city lost the case it filed, it also came up short on a challenge to the ballot language. The city attorney will have to rewrite the summary of the measure after Judge Colwell granted a writ of mandate Tuesday to Livermore resident Linda Guthrie.
That will have to be done quickly because the ballot deadline looms quickly. The new language, presumably, will have to be approved by the SEIU and potentially the judge.
Livermore Mayor John Marchand had it right in an East Bay Times article when he was quoted, “This is really a sledgehammer to resolve this. This is a labor dispute.”
It’s easy to be frustrated with the health care system since ObamaCare blew it up and sent costs soaring. Demanding a local municipality become the cost control agent is simply crazy.
What is it worth to you?


Posted by WD, a resident of San Ramon,
on Aug 30, 2018 at 5:53 pm

It's an error to say that the Affordable Care Act "blew up" health care costs because you don't like the ACA, and that Rendon "acted like an adult" because he did what you wanted. Was hoping for more analysis on this. Will look elsewhere.

Posted by Politicians Represent, a resident of another community,
on Aug 31, 2018 at 9:54 am

please - let me help
Web Link

Posted by DKHSK, a resident of Bridle Creek,
on Sep 2, 2018 at 9:50 pm

DKHSK is a registered user.


"If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor."

"If you like your plan, you can keep your plan."

"Every family will save $2500 per year."

All lies pushed by Obama and the Democrats.

Nobody is buying that crap anymore.

Posted by Marcus Welby, a resident of Danville,
on Sep 4, 2018 at 10:27 am

I have over 40 years experience in the healthcare industry, having been on the provider side for 12 years and both the medical device and molecular diagnostics enterprises. I also spent 3 years working for a large Blues health plan so I have seen the business from many different perspectives. The affordable care act did not "blow up costs" as you have asserted. One of the main drivers of rising expenses is the rapid geographical monopolies the hospital systems like Stanford and Sutter have executed. Studies have shown hospital costs in Northern California are 25-30% higher than in Southern Ca due to a lack of competition. Case in point, when Stanford sits down with Blue Shield to negotiate a new annual contract they have a "all or nothing" clause in their agreement with stipulated Blue Shield must sign an agreement for ALL of Stanford's facilities and hospital system owned physician practices and they demand a higher reimbursement. For example, my good friend is a dermatologist trying to make it as an independent physician, he resisted selling his practice to date. As he was seeing me last week he commented he was only getting paid $90.00 for my visit, and a fellow dermatologist friend of his had sold his practice to Stanford and as a result was getting paid $140.00 for a typical office visit, not the mere $90.00 my derm was being paid. And this was all due to Stanford's hardball negotiating tactics with the health plans. Don't believe me? Look up Price Waterhouse Cooper's report on healthcare inflation 2017. I salute the patriotic effort of Warren Buffet, Jamie Diamond and Jeff Bezos to slice up the hospital and health plan monopolies. This is an issue that needs immediate attention and innovation as our domestic health care expenses are impacting our ability to compete internationally in the business sector. One last comment, the fact that the Affordable Care Act mandated coverage for pre-existing conditions was an important part of the legislation. In my view in our great country no one should have to sell their house and incur bankruptcy because their child has cancer, or their wife was diagnosed with M.S. it can happen to you too my fellow citizens.

Posted by Andi P, a resident of another community,
on Sep 6, 2018 at 5:44 pm

We need Medicare for ALL!! I'm voting yes on Measure U. These healthcare companies have no accountability. The hospital workers are in favor of this measure, don't believe the lies.

Posted by James, a resident of Livermore,
on Sep 10, 2018 at 10:22 pm

Good going! I didn't know much about this measure, and I might have been persuaded to vote against it. But then you ended your article by revealing your true colors with an anti-Obamacare screed. So I'll be voting for this, as will my entire family. Job well done.

Posted by Dawn, a resident of Livermore,
on Sep 11, 2018 at 7:16 pm

Hey, why should the tax payers in Livermore or Paloalto have to foot the bill for policing hospital billing and enforcement of refunds and fines?! City government is for parks, emergency services, roads, schools and the like. I have been a taxpaying resident of Livermore and an RN at Stanford Healthcare Valley Care for 14 years. I resent the Union tactics on this one. The Union paid signature collectors that sat outside my Target and Safeway got a piece of my mind when they told me all the Nurses are for it. I am proud of of our small community hospital. Maybe some of you don't know that bankruptcy loomed a large reality for ValleyCare prior to Our Stanford affiliation. I am thankful that our doors stayed open, that our new COO pulled us together and thankful that Stanford saw value in Valley Care.
Our doors are open, Stanford has invested heavily in getting us out the red and improvement so that the needs of the community are met.
Please say no to U

Posted by Chris, a resident of another community,
on Sep 14, 2018 at 9:28 am

Politicians Represent is a proponent of fake news.

Posted by Valleycare RN, a resident of another community,
on Sep 14, 2018 at 6:26 pm

Healthcare is becoming too corporate. It is really shameful for these HUGE Not-For-Profit health systems to overcharge their patients. They get the tax breaks because they treat uninsured, disabled, and unemployed patients, of course, and I get that.. My concern is that the executives do not have any experience in healthcare. We witness lawyers with MBA degrees dictating how we should care for our patients. Executives have no idea what healthcare professionals do on a daily basis. Executives sit in their offices, attend meetings, and crunch numbers. Why? “Because we need to make more money! If we cut costs, we can enjoy massive bonuses! Yes! We got the power!" Doctors, nurses, techs, and ancillary personnel are the backbone of healthcare and we work as a team to provide the best care to our patients. In my own experience working at Valleycare before Stanford merged with us, I listened to patients feeling upset that they had to pay TRIPLE the amount at the hospital for the same test that was administered at their doctor's office. I have heard the doctor's comments, “This hospital is becoming a monopoly. I want to continue to treat my patients and admit them to Stanford-Valleycare and they are pushing me out." John Muir Hospital charges DOUBLE for the same exact test that is performed in a doctor's office. Stanford is NOTORIUS for overcharging. Example: You need a basic chest X-RAY. Nor-Cal quote is $39.00. Stanford-Valleycare's quote is $200. Why must a stable outpatient pay 5.1 times at Stanford Valleycare? My beef with Valleycare hospital is that you should have a different billing charge for outpatients. Outpatient tests should be comparable to doctors offices, Nor-Cal, and Quest labs. Measure U is very complicated but I am here to advocate for my patients! The Affordable Care Act regulates Insurance companies and they need to regulate what providers charge. VOTE YES ON MEASURE U if you are tired of being GOUGED.

Posted by Member, a resident of Downtown,
on Oct 4, 2018 at 8:31 pm

Measure U is so incredibly misleading and horribly unrealistic!!!! it is so costly to providers and the city and will not help patient costs! The union has been fighting Stanford and ValleyCare and they created this measure as a blow. Patients will NOT see lower costs with this measure. They WILL see less services available and likely layoffs in Livermore healthcare. I have heard from so many providers they won't be able to survive in Livermore under this measure. Insurance companies would reep the benefits of Measure U. HA! Shame shame shame.

Posted by komal , a resident of Amberwood/Wood Meadows,
on Nov 15, 2018 at 11:38 pm

like for each of you to explain by return email in as much detail as possible, why you are considering another bond, and with continued detail explain what that bond will do for Pleasanton schools that previous bonds have not done for Pleasanton schools.
Thank you very Much,

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