ECDC Co-Sponsors Resolution on Non-Profit Hospital Regulations

ECDC member Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto is sponsoring a resolution to require clarification of the charitable activity of non-profit hospitals. At its Oct 22 meeting, the ECDC Board agreed to co-sponsor the resolution at the CDP meeting on Nov 19.

Rochelle described her motivation for authoring the resolution. “The issue started to come up back in 2011 when [the California Nurses Association] started our negotiations with Sutter Health. Questions at that time were being asked by the nurses such as: how can a not-for-profit organization make three quarters of a billion dollars in profit in one year and get away with it? We were also perplexed as to why Sutter could give one million dollars to the Sacramento Kings and call it “donating to charity.” Meanwhile they were shutting down units that were not considered profitable and while out on the picket line we began to find out they were turning away patients in the ER that could not afford to pay. Sending them to the Alameda County Hospital.”

Rochelle supported AB 975, a bill from Assemblymen Weikowski and Bonta that would have required additional reporting on charitable activities from non-profit hospitals. While that bill died on the floor, Rochelle hopes that it will be re-introduced in the next session.

The text of the resolution follows:

California’s Nonprofit Hospitals and Charity Care

WHEREAS, nonprofit hospital’s in California frequently conduct business similar to for profit hospitals and, the profit (or excess revenue) of California’s nonprofit hospitals has soared into the billions of dollars while their top administrators’ salaries have climbed into the millions, while they continue to maintain a tax-exempt status; and

WHEREAS, according to the State of California Auditor, in the 2012 audit, the amount of charity care they provide has dropped to a percentage of service that is the same as or less than that of for-profit hospitals, while economically struggling counties and cities in California lose more than $1 billion as a result of the tax exemption of nonprofit hospitals, in addition to the direct payments counties make to hospitals in their geographic area to provide hospital care for the poor, thus effectively subsidizing the hospitals profits with taxpayer dollars; and

WHEREAS, the California State Legislature and Board of Equalization have already began to investigate nonprofit hospitals as well as questioning what nonprofit hospitals consider charity care and community benefits since there is currently no clear definition of what constitutes charity care or community benefits nor are there any clear enforceable penalties for non-compliance.

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the California Democratic Party calls on Governor Jerry Brown and the California State Legislature to enact legislation to clearly define charity care and community benefits. 

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that this legislation holds nonprofit hospitals accountable by protecting both the rights of all patients and the rights of the tax payers of California.

Authored by Rochelle Pardue-Okimoto, AD 15; Sponsor: Hilary Crosby, California Democratic Party Controller

ECDC Co-Sponsors Resolution on Reporting of Crimes Against Children

ECDC member Mister Phillips is sponsoring a resolution to alter penalties for non-reporting of crimes against children. At its Oct 22 meeting, the ECDC Board agreed to co-sponsor the resolution at the CDP meeting on Nov 19.

Mister described his motivation for introducing the resolution: “I drafted the resolution in response to the 2009 gang rape at Richmond High School. It upset me that witnesses would not report the crime to the police. It also upset me that the law did not require witnesses to report the crime to the police, because the victim was 16 years old. In my opinion, 16- and 17-year-olds are children. I think the law should protect 16- and 17-year-olds too.”

The text of the resolution follows:

REPORTING OF CRIMES AGAINST CHILDREN

WHEREAS, existing state law mandates that any person who reasonably believes that he or she has observed the commission of a murder, rape, or lewd or lascivious act where the victim is a child under the age of 14 years shall notify a peace officer, but does not mandate that any person who reasonably believes that he or she has observed the commission of a murder, rape, or lewd or lascivious act where the victim is a child over the age of 14 years shall notify a peace officer; and

WHEREAS, murder, rape, and lewd or lascivious acts are also committed against children over the age of 14 years, and the reporting of murder, rape, and lewd or lascivious acts committed against children over the age of 14 years is just as important as the reporting of murder, rape, and lewd or lascivious acts committed against children under the age of 14 years; and

WHEREAS, the expansion of existing state law to mandate that any person who reasonably believes that he or she has observed the commission of a murder, rape, or lewd or lascivious act where the victim is a child under the age of 18 years shall notify a peace officer would necessarily reduce the incidence of murder, rape, and lewd or lascivious acts committed against all children, including children over the age of 14 years;

THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, the California Democratic Party calls on Governor Jerry Brown and the California State Legislature to expand existing state law to mandate that any person who reasonably believes that he or she has observed the commission of a murder, rape, or lewd or lascivious act where the victim is a child under the age of 18 years shall notify a peace officer; and

THEREFORE BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, the California Democratic Party shall send copies of this resolution to Governor Brown and every member of the California State Legislature to encourage them to expand existing state law, as stated above, so that every child, regardless of age, is protected from murder, rape, and lewd or lascivious acts.

Authored by Mister Phillips; Co-sponsors: CDP African American Caucus; CDP Region 2; Democratic Party of Contra Costa County; Lawson C. Stuart, Chairman, CDP Veteran’s Caucus; Nadine Peyrucain, AD 14

September Meeting Recap

by Hilary Crosby

Our September meeting had a focus local – our main presenter was our District 1 Supervisor John Gioia. One guest, Brady Calma, was from Local 21 of the International Professional and Technical Engineers which represents their members in Contra Costa County. Our other guest was Zachery Mallet, the BART board member for part of El Cerrito and the rest of West Contra Costa County.

Brady came to inform us about a dispute over changes in how increases in the cost of healthcare premiums will be shared between the county and its employees. Up until 2009, the county paid a percentage of the increases in health care premiums, but since then, the employees have paid 100% of the premium increases.

wBART
BART Director Zakhary Mallett made a brief presentation about his proposal to explore expanded rail service that may connect northern communities in West Contra Costa County with existing BART services at the Richmond or El Cerrito del Norte BART Station, a project he calls wBART. By relating wBART to eBART in East Contra Costa County, he discussed wBART being neither alignment‐ nor technology‐specific, but an open‐ended study and project title that would identify which alignment and which technology would best serve the purpose of providing a commuting alternative to the many commuters in the area.

As he reminded us, this issue was an important reason for why he wanted to serve on the BART board, and it was refreshing to hear an elected official follow up on a campaign promise. At this point, Mr. Mallett is still working to build political consensus to conduct the comprehensive study component of this effort and is hoping to secure funds for such a study.

Mr. Mallett pointed out that the I‐80 corridor is the most congested commute corridor in the San Francisco Bay Area and suggested this as a paramount reason for investing in the wBART study. Since traffic congestion contributes to global warming, chances are our club would support the wBART effort.

In response to questions from Sandy Waters, an ECDC member who has recently retired from her position as BART station agent, Mr. Mallett informed us that an initial planning study would probably cost between $400,000 and $600,000 and that the Environmental Review process would likely run between $2 million and $2.5 million. This of course begs the question of the amount it would cost to actually construct the project.

Supervisor Gioia put this issue into the broader county‐wide, and pointed out that the main reason county didn’t fund the extension because would have sucked up all other transportation money. There is currently no identified funding for wBART, and building BART is really really expensive.

Supervisor Gioia provided the Club with various updates on Healthcare, the County’s financial situation and overall good news for residents in Contra Costa.

Healthcare
Contra Costa County (CCC) has been a leader in providing healthcare for 30‐40 years. We have the first had County‐ run Health Maintenance Organization that is funded with Medicare reimbursements.

The county is exploring becoming part of a region‐wide health care system centered by University of San Francisco (UCSF). UCSF is in the process of buying Children’s Hospital Oakland, and is open to entering the East Bay market more comprehensively. By affiliating with UCSF in some way, Doctors’ Hospital in San Pablo could become part of this consolidation.

Supervisor Gioia pointed out that Obamacare incentivized delivering health care more efficiently, and focusing on more preventative medicine. Affordable care keeps people out of the hospital; making it easier to see primary care doctor will help people stay healthier.

Finances
The lawsuits with Chevron are over – Chevron has withdrawn one, and the panel appointed by the Assessor dismissed another. By the way, ECDC members can be proud of our member Art Walenta who served on the panel and wrote the dismissal! The County netted $8 million from the results.

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Supervisor Gioia addresses the club.

After two years of property tax decrease and one year no growth, there has been an increase in property tax collections. During the down times, the County worked with unions to prevent layoffs and preserve services, even as the demand went up during the recession.

When employees paid more health care and pensions, it helped meet those goals. But now we have seen a 3.5% increase from property, and are projecting a 5% increase forward.

Of course, we still have the looming unfunded pension liability of $55,600,000. So putting together the projected increases in revenue and project additional, the County is looking at a $22,980,000 deficit for 2014/15.

Good news
Save the Bay launched a project to get an SF Bay region‐wide parcel tax onto the ballot that would fund wetlands restoration and protection. With all of the Bay Area counties participating, a small amount for each parcel would provide significant funding to preserve and protect the Bay.

Contra Costa Library working on its strategic plan. The meeting in El Cerrito had the best turn out in county. There is a big citizen movement in El Cerrito to build new library.

RYSE Center in Richmond is a youth center grew out of youth’s response to the killings of four young people in 2000. Although it is a “place to hang out” and be safe from violence, there are several active programs, including music video productions. Supervisor Gioia encouraged us to take a look at rysecenter.org.
If you download it on iTunes, RYSE gets the money. But if you just want to listen, do that too.

Assembly member Nancy Skinner proposed legislation to increase penalties and fines levied against companies for things like the Chevron fire. These funds would go towards more refinery monitoring which will hopefully prevent the kinds of accidents that generated the fines in the first place.