Seven things to know:
1. The ballot initiative, initially filed in May, would place a 15 percent cap on the amount Palo Alto-based hospitals can charge in excess of direct patient care costs. Hospitals, medical clinics and other providers in Palo Alto would have to refund payers for charges exceeding the 15 percent cap within 180 days of each fiscal year.
2. The Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West sponsored the measure. It represents healthcare workers at Stanford Health Care — which has a main campus in Palo Alto.
3. Stanford University announced its opposition to the measure in a Sept. 28 statement.
The measure “would threaten Stanford Health Care’s ability to provide top-quality healthcare to patients from Palo Alto and across the region,” officials said.
“Such a policy is estimated to reduce Stanford Health Care’s budget by 25 percent, requiring significant cutbacks and the possible closure of many services and programs that are essential to high-quality healthcare in the local area.”
4. Union spokesperson Sean Wherley argued the measure will provide accountability for local healthcare providers and the city, according to the report.
“This is about transparency [and] letting people understand how much [they] are being charged, and why [they] are being charged so much more than the clinic down the street or in the neighboring community,” he told The Stanford Daily. “This is our chance as an organization to get healthcare costs under control.”
5. The union has also taken issue with Stanford Health Care’s profits, but the system said these are necessary resources to maintain its specialists, facilities and community benefit program, and that the system invests all its profit margin.
6. Palo Alto City Council members voted this summer to oppose the measure. According to the report, they attributed the decision to not having adequate bureaucratic infrastructure to regulate healthcare charges from local providers.
7. As of Oct. 3, the political action committee of the union and the opposition committee — Protect Our Local Hospitals and Health Care — had spent a combined $1.8 million on the measure.