News of the Month — March 2024

NewsMarch 24, 2024

Note: Some of these stories may require a subscription.

Every television news station and KQED radio covered a strike by NUHW-represented workers at Seton Medical Center in Daly City. The hospital owner recently eliminated its health plan and forced many workers onto a plan that has made it much harder for the healthcare workers to access healthcare for themselves. The plan only includes one hospital with a pediatric department: John Muir Health, which is more than an hour drive for many workers.

NUHW successfully challenged the San Benito Health District’s bankruptcy petition, which the hospital used to cut pension, PTO and healthcare benefits for our members. A ruling in our favor last week will force the district to reverse the takeaways at Hazel Hawkins Memorial Hospital, and we’ll proceed with further legal action to make our members whole.

By the slimmest of margins, California voters approved a two-part ballot measure to restructure the state’s mental health system and curb its longstanding homeless crisis. According to USA Today, Proposition 1, strongly backed by Gov. Gavin Newsom, will allocate roughly $6.4 billion to build mental health treatment facilities and housing and assist the homeless. The money would be borrowed against income taxes already imposed on people who earn over $1 million annually. Now, that money is allocated entirely by counties. About $4.4 billion will be used to add 6,800 mental health and addiction treatment beds and build 4,350 housing units, about half of which would be reserved for veterans.

The Department of Insurance ordered Jericho Share, which operates as a health care sharing ministry, meaning it is made up of a group of people with common religious, or other, beliefs who decide to split medical expenses among members, to stop selling membership plans in California, saying it was not licensed to do so. Several Californians who became members in 2021 and 2022 told the agency they had problems with their coverage and canceling their membership, the Sacramento Bee reported.

University of California San Francisco officials have promised there would be no layoffs following its $100 million purchase of San Francisco’s St. Francis and St. Mary’s hospitals from Dignity Health. The San Francisco Standard reported that Shay Strachan, UCSF Health’s chief partnership and growth officer, also promised to maintain a slew of specialized programs at the two community hospitals, including the Bothin Burn Center at St. Francis and the Sister Mary Philippa Health Center and adolescent behavioral health program at St. Mary’s. UCSF aims to finalize the purchase by the end of June.

A photo of NUHW members Julie Lanoff and Wendy Blank during the 2022 Northern California mental healthcare workers strike against Kaiser is part of a Courthouse News article about Kaiser Permanente recently trying to persuade a judge to throw out a $41.5 million jury verdict for a nurse who claims she was fired because she raised too many concerns about patient safety. In a tentative decision, the judge said that Maria Gatchalian presented evidence during the trail that Kaiser had a motive to retaliate after she complained about her unit being understaffed; that she was discouraged from filing unusual occurrence reports; that there were repeated failures or refusals to investigate patient safety reports; and that she was fired sufficiently soon after she complained.

The Sonoma County Board of Supervisors has given its support to a ballot measure in the November election that would impose a quarter-cent sales tax to support child care and healthcare, the Press Democrat reported. Sixty-percent of the money would be invested into child care needs, with the other 40 percent being directed to children’s health and early development programs.

Los Angeles Times reported that vaccine-hesitant parents are increasingly delaying or postponing measles, mumps, and rubella shots for their children by months or years, says pediatricians in California. This trend began the COVID-19 pandemic, after waves of misinformation and politicization hampered trust in the healthcare industry. Delayed vaccines create a potential vulnerability gap in a child’s first four years. Nationally, the rate of kindergartners who are fully immunized against measles has fallen from 95% in the 2019-20 school year to 93% in 2022-23, according to CDC data.