S.F. Health Department Funds Lobbying Effort Against Health Care

Tuesday, June 26, 2012


One-third of the San Francisco Department of Health Care’s $1 million lobbying budget is earmarked for the California Hospital Association, an organization that often finds itself at odds with consumer advocates.

An investigation by The Bay Citizen turned up memos that detailed the city’s spending plans and elicited howls of protest from health care organizations. “The California Hospital Association is the leading opponent of every single proposal to improve the quality of health care, expand access, control health care costs, to make hospitals seismically safe—take your pick,” Chuck Idelson, spokesman for the California Nurses Association, told the publication.

Hospital administrators point out that the association also lobbies on their behalf against government budget cuts that would affect vital services and have the resources to engage in costly legal battles.

The association lobbied the state Legislature in 2009 to push back state-mandated seismic retrofitting deadlines for hospitals passed after the deadly Northridge earthquake in 1994 exposed their vulnerability. More recently it has joined the fight against attempts to give the state’s insurance commissioner authority to reject health insurance rate increases and is pushing for legislation that would roll back nurse-to-patient ratios by suspending the requirements while nurses are on break, a move that the California Nurses Association says would endanger patients and increase workloads for nurses.  

The California Hospital Association was the second largest spender among health care lobbyists in the state during the 2011-12 legislative session. Kaiser Foundation Health Plan ranked first at nearly $4 million and the association spent $3.3 million, according to the Secretary of State’s office, which compiles a database of lobbying activity.   

More lobbying dollars, $35.7 million, were spent on health care last year than any other nongovernment category. Manufacturing and industrial interests spent $23.8 million on lobbyists and education lobbyists pulled in $19.4 million. Health care has generated a lot of lobbying activities for years, which is likely to increase as Obama’s Affordable Care Act, or what’s left of it after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on its legality, takes effect.

–Ken Broder


To Learn More:

Consumer Groups Blast SF Health Department's Lobbying Budget (by Matt Smith, The Bay Citizen)

California Hospitals Seek to Push Back Seismic Deadline (by Chris Rauber, San Francisco Business Times)

California Unions Battle over Fate of State's Nurse-to-Patient Ratio Law (by Laura Clawson, Daily Kos)

Health Care Lobbying in California Tops List in Record Year (by George Lauer, California HealthLine)

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