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Health care measure heads for defeat in Palo Alto

Original post made on Nov 6, 2018

A proposal by a union of health care workers to impose caps on how much Palo Alto’s medical providers can charge patients and insurance companies was on the verge of being emphatically rejected by local voters on Election Day, early results indicate.

Read the full story here Web Link posted Tuesday, November 6, 2018, 8:33 PM

Comments (39)

19 people like this
Posted by Great job Palo Alto
a resident of another community
on Nov 6, 2018 at 8:52 pm

Good for you in rejecting this union baloney. We are dealing with the same thing out in Livermore, going down in flames here also. Maybe SEIU will just go away.....ahh, probably not.


31 people like this
Posted by Norman Rizk
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 6, 2018 at 9:06 pm

Terrible waste of money to resolve a ridiculous proposition that would have hurt patients. Workers should reject SEIU as their representative and work with Stanford Medicine to improve our work place and service to patoients. We threw $8m out the window which could have been used to help patients


21 people like this
Posted by Tom
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2018 at 9:14 pm

Better question is: How are such propositions even allowed on a ballot? No cost analysis, how to pay for the oversight, a battle between a union and a hospital can lead to this?

Better change our ballot methods or expect more abuse by others trying to hurt some competition with us in the middle


12 people like this
Posted by Local Guy
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 6, 2018 at 9:48 pm

I’m so happy that the people of these communities saw these ballots for what they really are! It’s sad that ballots with so many half truths and so much misleading information can find its way into our Democracy. What a huge win for the people of both communities.


12 people like this
Posted by hardlyb
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 6, 2018 at 10:20 pm

I find it depressing that such a terrible idea made it onto the ballot. Maybe we should have a contrary ballot measure which requires union officials to repay all of the funds spent defeating this ridiculous idea. That has precisely the same merit as Measure F, and is probably equally illegal.


Like this comment
Posted by unionpuncher
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 6, 2018 at 10:32 pm

[Post removed.]


1 person likes this
Posted by Leland S.
a resident of Stanford
on Nov 6, 2018 at 10:37 pm

Gadzooks! This scurrilous piece of legislation brought back many unkind memories of previous shameful acts from our nation’s government. To wit, I recall the occasion back in 1850 when that scoundrel Millard Fillmore and his band of Whig party acolytes attempted to bestow citizenship on certain farm animals! O what a naked, shameless effort to drum up support among goats, boars, and heifers. That runaround cost me a full years supply of squirrel oil and gun powder, in an all out effort to combat this brazen assault on fair democracy. Yet I am undeterred and full of life!


9 people like this
Posted by Local dude
a resident of Charleston Gardens
on Nov 7, 2018 at 3:25 am

I voted NO on F for one important reason:
The kid collecting signatures or the measure rang my bell @ 10 pm which is a NO NO


9 people like this
Posted by Janis Wick
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 7, 2018 at 5:54 am

After much consideration, I voted YES on measure F. I know it would have cost the taxpayers of Palo Alto some money to support a Health Care administration to police health institutions, but, on the other hand, something simply must be done about the ridiculously high cost of health care, especially in the Bay Area. Palo Alto stepped up to the plate many years ago by constructing moderate income rental units and a below market condo program and maintaining that program which has had a significant impact in addressing the housing crisis. It was bitterly fought at the time and still is when new units are to be constructed. I see Measure F and its promise in the same light. If local communities don't stop the financial raping of patients by big health care institutions, who will? P.S. I do not work for a health care institution nor am I in a union. I am a patient!


10 people like this
Posted by Bunyip
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 7, 2018 at 6:45 am

Janis, the high costs are related to the Bay Area and the costs of living. Ask yourself why firefighters make over $200,000. Now extrapolate that across 10,000 employees. People cost money, accept it and move in. Your lucky to have Stanford at your door ready for when you need it.


6 people like this
Posted by RG
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:05 am

Janis,
Unlike any other profession, hospitals are required to treat and provide services to patients like yourself, regardless of your ability to pay. If you black out from a heart attack and the paramedics bring you to the hospital, it doesn't matter if you're homeless and don't have a dime, or you're the CEO of a tech company. You get the same treatment. You can find it online - Stanford's "profits" are not really profits. The hospital spends a half-billion dollars to offset charity care and other cases that it has to writeoff. If you're uninsured, military, medicare, etc... Stanford loses money everytime you walk into the ER. The more serious the illness, the heavier the loss.

As Bunyip pointed out, things are compounded by the local market. Doctors don't generally start earning a true paycheck until their 30's and still have student loans. Most of the nurses and doctors at Stanford, especially those that are under the age of 50, are not able to afford to live in Palo Alto. It's a little ironic that most of us commute so far for work because of housing costs in order to help some people who actually live here and are angry at us for being so expensive.


61 people like this
Posted by rita vrhel
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:08 am

The issue of health care costs is extremely complex. This ballot measure was not, in my opinion, the right approach but rather represented a "temper tantrum" by the Union against their employer and all other Palo Alto health care providers. Thank you for voting NO on this unfunded mandate.

While trashing Stanford's reputation in the process, considerable money was wasted on both sides. I hope the Union reconsiders its next step and leaves Palo Alto residents out of their ongoing fight with Standford.

I am not a fan of Stanford because of their untamed growth, extreme reluctance, if not refusal, to negotiate and continuing traffic / other negative impacts on Palo Alto. But this ballot measure was ill conceived.

If anyone really wants to reduce health care costs, start by going for a walk, throw out processed and sugar loaded foods, stop smoking, cook at home and become a partner with your health care professional by achieving normal Lab values and not being overweight.

Obesity is a leading factor in chronic diseases and our rising health care costs. If we would all take more personal responsibility for our health, overall health care costs could be reduced. Accidents happen and less than optimal genetics occur, but with 38.6 % of the American population obese, defined as 20% over normal weight, health care costs associated with treatment of the multitude of chronic diseases directly related to weight will continue to climb. And unfortunately all the money spend on chronic diseases does not solve the pain, decreased life span and personal tragedy associated with these diseases. Time to start a conversation with ourselves rather than blaming Heath Care providers.


4 people like this
Posted by cvvhrn
a resident of Midtown
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:50 am

cvvhrn is a registered user.

RG.

While we voted no on the measure Please show me where the medical center spent 500 million to pay for “charity” cases? Sure they eat costs but not half a billion

The reality is that they are one of the most expensive hospitals around. The charity money you speak of more likely is being used to pay for medical school operations than anything else.

The hospitals IRS 990’s paint a different financial reality of huge surpluses despite the endless and relentless construction


4 people like this
Posted by RG
a resident of another community
on Nov 7, 2018 at 9:56 am

@cvvhrn:

Web Link

half billion was spent covering uncompensated medicare costs.

It's a common misconception but the hospital and medical school are not the same. They work together and many employees have overlaps but the hospital is the hospital. The medical school is part of the university.

The 990's indeed make it look like the hospital is hoarding money but most of it is getting reinvested into tangible things that will benefit the community. The current hospital is outdated. Almost all the rooms and bathrooms are currently shared with at least one other patient because there are more patients than beds.
After the new hospital opens and the old one is remodeled, all rooms will be private and can accommodate families, etc... If anything might cut down infection rates, it's this.


12 people like this
Posted by Me 2
a resident of Old Palo Alto
on Nov 7, 2018 at 11:12 am

To whom at the SEIU-UHW do we send the bill for wasting our time and money?


2 people like this
Posted by SHC
a resident of Menlo Park
on Nov 7, 2018 at 11:25 am

Despite the fearmongering, there is definitely room for Stanford to reduce rates - even running as inefficiently as they do today (despite the strong brand and a number of exceptional providers, administration could be better). Aside from a few months a couple years ago they have consistently posted healthy operating surpluses (even after accounting for the write offs referenced above). Additionally they have a healthy balance sheet to fund the new construction. As an employee I'm privy to more financial detail but the annual numbers from recent years are freely available on the SHC website for those that are interested.

That said, this ballot measure was never the answer and I'm glad voters recognized that.


2 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2018 at 3:58 pm

Measure F would have been a disaster for Palo Alto residents, who overwhelmingly rejected it.

That it existed at all shows the contempt for Palo Altans held by the SEIU, and also by the County Democratic Party, whose chair Bill James wrote the ballot argument in favor. Neither is any friend to Palo Alto.


12 people like this
Posted by Resident
a resident of University South
on Nov 7, 2018 at 4:18 pm

As an active and lifelong Democrat who generally supports unions, what was most disappointing about this wasteful effort by SEIU was that the county Democratic Party supported the measure and the head of the county Democratic Party actually authored the ballot arguments in support of it. Are they so tied to the unions that they can’t even stay neutral on such a clearly cynical initiative?
The other union/SEIU effort this election to impact our local politics was their strong support for Cory Wolbach. That too went down in flames.
Hopefully, the unions will have learned a lesson about not over reaching locally and instead try to rebuild public trust in them.


50 people like this
Posted by QA BMI Couple
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 7, 2018 at 4:50 pm

> Obesity is a leading factor in chronic diseases and our rising health care costs. If we would all take more personal responsibility for our health, overall health care costs could be reduced.

Why are there so many overweight people everywhere? Is this attributable to poor eating habits and/or gluttony?

Whenever I leave the office from work during the lunch hour (to run some banking errands and venture towards Grant Road Plaza in Mountain View), an infinite number of cars are lined=up all along the street just to get through the In & Out drive-thru. Sometimes the line of cars extends onto Grant Road as well, holding up traffic all the way to ECR. Their burgers aren't that great and I imagine other fast-food outlets are being overun as well.

In addition to being unhealthy, obesity is so unattractive and I cannot imagine anyone who would want to look that way. Typical excuses such as slow metabolism and/or big bone structure simply don't cut it. Junk food and soda are additional culprits and a primary source of empty, non-nutritional calories.

My wife and I made a pact when we got married 20 years ago...if either one reached a BMI over 26, it would be grounds for divorce and to date, we are around 19. There's no excuse for being fat.


42 people like this
Posted by QA BMI Couple
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 7, 2018 at 5:06 pm

An addendum...

To those who actually care about their physical appearance and overall health, with the holidays coming up >eat until you are no longer hungry, not until you are full.

This approach can also be applied to everyday dining as well. Moderate exercise helps but for those without a regular work-out regimen, a regular walk can work wonders. For added incentive, consider getting a dog.

We don't associate with heavy-set people socially but at work it cannot be helped as some people just don't care about their physical appearances.


3 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2018 at 6:30 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

I'm pretty disappointed that so many people voted for this thing. I mean we all want lower health care costs, but I seriously question the judgement of anyone who thinks any of our health care decisions should be decided by the Palo Alto city council.


7 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2018 at 6:41 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

@QA BMI Couple:

I think it would behoove you to show a bit more empathy and compassion for your fellow human beings. Your comments are so deeply offensive I don't even know where to begin, but I'll just say that while you seem to have all the answers for external beauty, you might want to consider the same kind of tests and guidance for your own inner being, which really seems like it needs it.


48 people like this
Posted by QA BMI Couple
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 7, 2018 at 7:00 pm

> I think it would behoove you to show a bit more empathy and compassion for your fellow human beings.

My comments were in regards to one's health and controllable dietary practices. It had nothing to do with 'external beauty' although one's physique can sometimes play a part in this equation (depending on the beholder).

America has often been described as a country that is overfed yet undernourished.
A proper diet ensures basic health and unnecessary weight gain. Heart disease, high-blood pressure and diabetes are often associated with those who are overweight.

So if 'external beauty' is not a priority, a healthy diet and moderate exercise should be (for those so inclined).

Deep down inside, no one really wants to look like a slug. That's why Jenny Craig, WeightWatchers and NutriSystem are popular outlets for those who are concerned about this issue.





5 people like this
Posted by Truthfully
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 7, 2018 at 8:07 pm

The cost of medical care is outrageous, but I can assure you, no one is getting rich, not even the physicians. For instance, docs earn anywhere from $100,000-$300,000, which means that they cannot even buy a house in Palo Alto or neighboring cities on a single income unless perhaps they live on Stanford property and buy the house but not the land. Health care in Silicon Valley is terrible. Why? Not even physicians can afford to live here comfortably. Thus, the better doctors move elsewhere. I think I'll die as a result of malpractice here. Kaiser is even worse care, please avoid it. Fine if you are healthy, but if you have big issues or need surgery, they do anything to discourage it because it's a numbers game for them and they try to save money any way they can. It's like universal healthcare, which is lower quality health care. They tell people that they cannot operate because [name the organ] is too weak but if the patient gets a second opinion (like at Stanford or UCSF), they will find that it's fine to operate on the patient. Kaiser surgeons years ago got bonuses for not operating, but that has changed.


8 people like this
Posted by DTN Paul
a resident of Downtown North
on Nov 7, 2018 at 11:01 pm

DTN Paul is a registered user.

@QA BMI Couple

Give me a break. In two short posts, you made an astounding number of self righteous, judgemental, superficial, unempathetic comments, including the following:

- "obesity is so unattractive"
- "there is no excuse for being fat"
- "for those of you who actually care about your physical appearance" - implying that those with weight problems do not.
- "We don't associate with heavy-set people socially" - implying that these people are not worth socializing with.
- "Deep down inside, no one really wants to look like a slug." -implying that these people look like slugs.

These are hateful, ignorant comments. Yes, some people who are overweight just need to eat less. But many people with weight problems do not eat more than other people, but have biological / genetic reasons that cause them to retain weight. That is a medical fact. Many have dealt with the deep social stigma of being overweight for their whole lives and they do not need lectures from people like you, who lack the grace and empathy to understand how awful these comments are.


30 people like this
Posted by QA BMI Couple
a resident of Los Altos
on Nov 8, 2018 at 9:37 am

"Give me a break. In two short posts, you made an astounding number of self righteous, judgemental, superficial, unempathetic comments, including the following:"

- "obesity is so unattractive"

>> It can be. But in some cultures, obesity is considered a sign of affluence.

- "there is no excuse for being fat"

>> Everyone has excuses for just about anything. Perhaps 'reason' is a better word.

- "for those of you who actually care about your physical appearance" - implying that those with weight problems do not.

>> Realistically, some people do and others don't.

- "We don't associate with heavy-set people socially" - implying that these people are not worth socializing with.

>> Your 'implying' is putting words into someone else's mouth. Perhaps I should have been clearer...due to an active lifestyle, those we tend to associate with are physically fit and trim. They have to be in order to actively participate in shared activities (i.e. running, skiiing, bicycling etc.).

- "Deep down inside, no one really wants to look like a slug." -implying that these people look like slugs.

>> As aforementioned, the preoccupation with various commercial (and costly) weight-loss programs in America would seem to 'imply' this.


My subsequent posts were inspired by an earlier/insightful one...

"Obesity is a leading factor in chronic diseases and our rising health care costs. If we would all take more personal responsibility for our health, overall health care costs could be reduced...with 38.6 % of the American population obese, defined as 20% over normal weight, health care costs associated with treatment of the multitude of chronic diseases directly related to weight will continue to climb."







3 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 8, 2018 at 10:08 am

Posted by Truthfully, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood

>> The cost of medical care is outrageous, but I can assure you, --no one-- is getting rich, not even the physicians. For instance, --docs--

But, I can assure you, some one -is- getting rich. In particular, management working for insurers, an industry that never has a real downturn-- noting that management in other industries that are more volatile, like so many in Silicon Valley, do get paid a lot more in the good years. But, even better, management and investors in medical device and equipment suppliers, diagnostic labs, the pharmaceutical industry.

So, doctors, nurses, other staff, and, non-profit hospitals may not be "getting rich", but, -the system- has enormous overhead. Simple experiment-- compare the cost of crutches from Amazon and the same thing via -the system-. Excuses aside, the difference in price supports a vast insurance-mediated bureaucracy that is unique to the US. And, -naturally-, management in that bureaucracy is well-compensated, as it must be.


Like this comment
Posted by StarSpring
a resident of Adobe-Meadow
on Nov 8, 2018 at 1:40 pm

StarSpring is a registered user.

@Leland S. I hope Trump doesn't read your post and get ideas!

This proposition is a statewide, or countrywide issue. It has no business being decided city by city.


30 people like this
Posted by I Lost the Weight
a resident of Charleston Meadows
on Nov 8, 2018 at 1:46 pm

"If anyone really wants to reduce health care costs, start by going for a walk, throw out processed and sugar loaded foods, stop smoking, cook at home and become a partner with your health care professional by achieving normal Lab values and not being overweight."

I used to weigh 285 lbs and at 5'10", this was not a good place to be. My MD prescribed a high-protein/low carbohydrate eating regimen and combined with moderate exercise, I was able to shed the excess poundage (though it took over two years to accomplish). I now weigh-in at 165 pounds and have never felt better. My self-esteem has improved and my lab numbers are now back to normal.

Appearance factors aside, I would recommend weight loss for anyone who is obese from the standpoint of health standards. It takes a certain degree of discipline and personal desire to succeed but the goal is not impossible.

Personally speaking, I suspect that my being overweight also contributed to an inner sense of unhappiness and in retrospect, I imagine there are countless numbers of obese people who are also unhappy with their lives. The key is to do something about it...not to satisfy other people's opinions but for yourself. It's never too late.

By taking responsibility for our own health, we can ideally/ultimately reduce the cost of health care (although there will always be others who don't or won't).





4 people like this
Posted by JR McDugan
a resident of Palo Verde
on Nov 8, 2018 at 7:11 pm

JR McDugan is a registered user.

"The cost of medical care is outrageous, but I can assure you, no one is getting rich" - not true, Stanford Health Care reported operating profits last year of $234 million. Stanford Health Care is getting rich at the expense of their patients, and then they turn around and spend the profits to defeat a proposition that would hold them accountable. This is corruption.


Like this comment
Posted by accounting
a resident of Professorville
on Nov 8, 2018 at 9:40 pm

So if we limited their profit to 15% of their revenue, how much would that be?


2 people like this
Posted by Tax the Reckless Ones
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 2:03 pm

> Obesity is a leading factor in chronic diseases and our rising health care costs.

Obese/grossly overweight people should pay more for healthcare costs as they are the ones running up a sizable number of the various/related treatment expenditures.

The same goes for smokers and alcoholics. Maybe this would curb usage.




10 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2018 at 2:09 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Should we also tax parents since children always run up big medical bills, mothers since pre-natal care and giving birth are expensive, diabetics since they're often obese, the elderly because they also have large medical bills?

And what above the anti-vaxers who can be responsible for infecting lots of other people?

My point is where do you want the nanny state to end?


2 people like this
Posted by Tax the Reckless Ones
a resident of Barron Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 2:17 pm

> Should we also tax parents since children always run up big medical bills, mothers since pre-natal care and giving birth are expensive, diabetics since they're often obese, the elderly because they also have large medical bills?

Yes...if the health condition is self-inflicted or via personal negligence.

No...if through no fault of the patient.

Just like car insurance.


6 people like this
Posted by Online Name
a resident of Embarcadero Oaks/Leland
on Nov 9, 2018 at 3:38 pm

Online Name is a registered user.

Glad we agree. Clearly bearing children is due to personal negligence and pregnancy and parenthood are self-inflicted conditions and indicative of personal negligence. It's reckless to bring children into an over-populated world and think people not using contraception are reckless and negligent.

We should be taxing women, men and rapists for inflicting the costs of bearing, educating and caring for mothers and children onto the taxpayers.

See also Jonathan Switft's "A Modest Proposal"


4 people like this
Posted by Anon
a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on Nov 9, 2018 at 3:44 pm

Posted by Tax the Reckless Ones, a resident of Barron Park

>> > Should we also tax parents since children always run up big medical bills, mothers since pre-natal care and giving birth are expensive, diabetics since they're often obese, the elderly because they also have large medical bills?

Certainly anyone who becomes a parent is irresponsible and negligent. ;-)
Better to just stay single, hole up in a 240 ft^2 apartment, and play video games for entertainment.

>> Yes...if the health condition is self-inflicted or via personal negligence.
>> No...if through no fault of the patient.
>> Just like car insurance.

Just to inject some data into the discussion, obesity rates in the NZ, Australia, UK, Canada and Canada are near the top (US is highest among large countries). Web Link Yet, healthcare costs are significantly lower Web Link and longevity is higher Web Link than in the US. Apparently, something else is driving costs in the US-- the US insurance system, which is unlike anything else in the OECD.


10 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 9, 2018 at 5:59 pm

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: Certainly anyone who becomes a parent is irresponsible and negligent.

Not necessarily. On the other hand... I do recall a minister once telling a young couple dealing with their misbehaving kids, "Children are God's punishment for having sex."



2 people like this
Posted by Single and Free
a resident of another community
on Nov 10, 2018 at 3:01 pm

>>>> Certainly anyone who becomes a parent is irresponsible and negligent. ;-)
Better to just stay single, hole up in a 240 ft^2 apartment, and play video games for entertainment.
>>>>> "Children are God's punishment for having sex."

Having children is highly overrated. Women seem to want them more so than men...especially after they reach a certain age (34+) and are still single.

Not so sure about the 240 x 2 foot apartment + video games but being free to do whatever you want sure beats being tied-down with child rearing as the later rewards are somewhat questionable.


13 people like this
Posted by R.Davis
a resident of Crescent Park
on Nov 10, 2018 at 5:31 pm

R.Davis is a registered user.

QUOTE: Having children is highly overrated. Women seem to want them more so than men...especially after they reach a certain age (34+) and are still single.

I've noticed that too. Some even 'prospect' for suitable father material even if there is no potential for marriage or a shared family life later down the road.

Seems like a desperate measure...a singular quest to validate one's existence.


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