Who Decides How Much You Make?

Would you want your neighbors to decide how much the chef at your favorite restaurant should be paid? Do you think we should vote on the salary of your local golf pro, hair stylist, or the mechanic at the auto shop down the street?

Chances are you probably don’t think that’s the right way to determine how much people earn. So why are we talking about a potential ballot measure that would cap the salary of hospital executives? Is it because the cap is $450,000? The top players on the Phoenix Suns will make that in less than three games next season.

For some reason – the leadership at the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) believes we should all have a say in how much hospital executives make. The SEIU is trying to get the initiative on the November ballot. The union tried to push the same ballot measure in California, but recently had to shut down that fight…..again.

From the LA Times:

Union leaders have tried at least two times to put an initiative on the ballot that would cap the salaries that nonprofit hospitals pay their executives. The ostensible purpose was to protect taxpayers from having to subsidize multimillion-dollar paychecks. But the real purpose, as was made clear in an arbitrator’s report last month, was to pressure the leaders of non-union hospitals into staying mute while SEIU organized their workers. 

So, after the latest failed attempt in California – it seems the SEIU set its sights on Arizona. According to a story on Tucson.com, “Petitions containing 281,087 signatures were submitted…to the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office for a ballot measure to limit the total compensation for any hospital executive, manager or administrator to no more than what the president of the United States is paid. That is currently $450,000 a year.”

A lawsuit was recently filed challenging whether the initiative should be allowed on the November ballot. From KJZZ-Radio:

The suit is backed by the Arizona Chamber of Commerce and alleges the hospital executive pay initiative should be blocked because the California-based labor group backing it failed to register as a political committee before gathering signatures. The group had a similar effort in California which was withdrawn.

The Arizona Hospital and Healthcare Association strongly opposes this proposed legislation.  AzHHA President & CEO Greg Vigdor said, “It is clear to us that this initiative is a bargaining chit for a labor dispute in California rather than a serious public policy proposal regarding health care in Arizona.  And make no mistake- these outsiders are bringing bad policy to our state, policy that will do nothing to but harm health care for the people who live here.”

Becker’s Hospital Review quoted AzHHA spokesperson Matthew Benson as saying a cap on executive pay would “harm healthcare and hurt patients.”

“If we’re going to have outside interests setting arbitrary caps on what hospital leaders and executives can be paid, it’s going to hamper the ability of these hospitals to recruit the best people,” Benson said.

That’s our take on this potential ballot initiative. Now we want to hear what you think. Whether you agree or disagree, these are the types of health related issues that will determine the future of health care in our state. And we believe generating conversations around those key issues will help us one day reach our goal of making Arizona the Healthiest State in the Nation!


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