Members lobby legislators to support our hospital bill

HCA drops bid to merge with SVMH

Left to right: Supervisor Simon Salinas, Joe Ibarra (NMC member leader) Harry Weiss (CEO), Rodney Braga (NMC Board of Trustee), Nick Diaz (NMC member leader)

As Natividad members lobbied legislators in Sacramento to support our hospital bill (AB 276), the private company HCA dropped its bid to merge with Salinas Valley Memorial Hospital.

That leaves Natividad Medical Center as the only candidate to merge with SVMH. Salinas Valley Memorial may also choose to stand alone.

Regardless of what SVMH chooses, Natividad members are working to protect our safety-net hospital and our contract.

NMC Irene Zenk“Our goal has always been – and continues to be – to maintain our safety-net status as a hospital and protect our contract, jobs, and benefits, whether or not we affiliate with Salinas Valley Memorial.”
– Irene Zenk, during the June 7 tele-townhall about AB 276

That’s why members Joe Ibarra and Nick Diaz spent two days in Sacramento (June 26 – 27), lobbying legislators on the Senate Health Committee to support Assembly Bill 276, “The Central Coast Hospital Authority Act.” The committee passed the bill unanimously. The bill will now go before the Governance and Finance committee, then to the Governor for his signature.

Members also delivered our petition in support of the bill that was signed by hundreds of Natividad workers.

About AB 276:

AB 276 essentially says that Natividad Memorial Hospital will leave the county and form a public authority with another healthcare agency. Natividad member leaders negotiated with county management and hospital management to ensure the bill includes language that properly represents our members on issues like CalPERS, benefits, seniority, and working conditions.

The timing of the bill is critical. Now that the Supreme Court upheld Health Care Reform, we will see an unprecedented new pressure on our healthcare safety net in the next two years, as millions of Californians are newly eligible for healthcare.

We need to strengthen our healthcare infrastructure to be ready for the changes, and AB 276 will help accomplish that.

“Healthcare reform presents us with an opportunity and a challenge. By building on our current strengths, we can make healthcare reform work for all residents of Monterey County.”
– Enid Donato, Health Education Assistant, Natividad Medical Center

AB 276 will continue Natividad’s status as a safety net hospital and protects workers’ rights, while creating a public authority that will allow it to join with other healthcare facilities in the county to meet future challenges.

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