You'd think that after announcing profits of $2.1 billion in 2009, $1.9 billion in 2010 and over $1.5 billion in the first nine months of 2011, Kaiser Permanente wouldn't have the nerve to ask for millions of dollars in rate hikes from school employees and health and pension takeaways from all Kaiser healthcare workers. But that's exactly what Kaiser is doing.
Recently, Kaiser, the largest health provider for school employees in LAUSD, proposed a more than 10% increase in the rates it charges the school district. Kaiser’s proposed rate hike would add $40 million per year to the district’s expenses in a time of deep budget cutting, and sap needed funds that could go to classrooms. And that’s just the biggest example of rate hikes Kaiser is proposing throughout our state that will impact school employees.
Students and LAUSD employees aren’t alone in facing Kaiser’s squeeze. Kaiser has demanded a 12.54% increase from Sacramento USD, 10.9% from Sweetwater HSD, 9.1% from Riverside and Long Beach, 7.29% from both Montebello and Stockton, and 7.28% from West Contra Costa USD, to name just a few. Kaiser also imposed double-digit rate increases on 300,000 Californians who work at non-profits and small businesses. In September, the California Department of Managed Healthcare requested data and asked Kaiser to substantiate the increases. In response, Kaiser quickly cut premiums by 1.2%, saving enrollees as much as $30 million.
What’s more, Kaiser is currently asking for steep takeaways in health and retirement benefits from union RNs, psychologists and other workers who provide care at Kaiser hospitals and clinics. Members of the National Union of Healthcare Workers and the California Nurses Association went on strike in September to protest Kaiser’s intent to take away the pension plans and reduce the healthcare coverage of thousands of its own employees.
Raising rates for patients and school employees and cutting benefits for healthcare workers while Kaiser is reporting billions in profits is just plain wrong.
While Kaiser trumpets its billions in profits, what Kaiser doesn’t tell all of those it asks for rate hikes is that Kaiser’s CEO, George Halvorson, made $8 million in compensation in 2009 or that top executives at Kaiser enjoy as many as 8 different pension accounts.
At some point we have to tell Kaiser enough is enough! Members of our profession including colleagues at UTLA and the California Federation of Teachers as well as concerned community members from the Courage Campaign and Jobs with Justice are joining Kaiser healthcare workers united in NUHW by taking action today.
Your voice will make a difference for students, school employees, patients, healthcare workers and the public.
Please join us in sending a letter to Kaiser CEO George Halvorson today.