As a Union Pushes to Cap Hospital CEO Pay, It’s Accused of Playing Politics

by | Aug 9, 2023 | Health

LOS ANGELES — The aim is aspirational: Hospital executives shouldn’t make more than the president of the United States.

Next spring, Los Angeles city voters will have a chance to put the brake on runaway salaries by capping hospital executives’ pay at $450,000 a year. The measure, proposed by a local union and approved by the City Council in June, will appear on the March 2024 ballot.

The vote will be the first fruit of a long-running campaign by the Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West, a California union with more than 100,000 members, to cap compensation. The advance has galvanized the union to collect signatures for similar efforts in San Diego, Chula Vista, and La Mesa.

Union officials say a cap is necessary given that hospital executives’ pay increases have outpaced those of hourly workers across the country, widening disparities, according to recent studies. Critics accuse the union of playing politics.

The California Hospital Association, which lobbies for the hospital industry, says the proposal would drive out talent and is meant to exert pressure on hospitals, referencing previous proposals the union has made over the past 10 years.

“This measure won’t do anything to reduce health care costs or improve the quality of care in the community,” said Jan Emerson-Shea, a spokesperson for the hospital association. “On the contrary, it will only make it more difficult to recruit qualified hospital leaders, including physicians and nurse leaders.”

If passed, policy and legal experts warn the cap …

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