Political Workshop Takes Subtle Aim At Sutter

Town Hall meeting at San Leandro's Senior Center today will feature elected officials asking whether non-profit hospitals do enough to justify their tax-exempt status.


A slow motion drama is unfolding in the East Bay hospital industry, and one starring character is Sutter Health, the non-profit chain that runs Eden Hospital and owns San Leandro Hospital, and is now with that latter institution.

Against this backdrop, Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan and State Board of Equalization member Betty Yee will hold a town hall meeting at 3:00 pm today at the San Leandro Senior Center.

The subject of Friday meeting is obscure but important to San Leandro and the East Bay: do non-profit hospitals provide enough in community benefits to merit their tax-exempt status?

The Board of Equalization oversees many tax matters including hospital tax exemption. Yee is one of its five elected representatives.

One group raising the issue of tax exemption is the California Nurses Association, which has played a leading role in the effort to keep San Leandro Hospital open, even over unsettled labor contracts.

"It’s time to investigate hospital 'non-profit' tax status," as San Leandro nurse Carol Barazi said in a CNA press release that accused Sutter of "steadily reducing services . . . while recording over $4 billion in profits since 2005."

Without directly addressing either today's workshop or the CNA accusations, Sutter defended its public service record in a full page advertisement in Thursday's San Leandro Times

The ad read in part: "In 2011, Sutter Health provided $756 million in free or discounted care for patients without insurance and to support community clinics, medical research and health education."  

Obviously there is a disconnect.

In August, California State Auditor Elaine Howle is scheduled to release an independent assessment of whether non-profit hospitals meet the obligations necessary to maintain their tax-exempt status under current law, Supervisor Chan told Patch Thursday.

That audit was set in motion by State Senator Elaine Corbett, the San Leandro Democrat who has sought to keep San Leandro Hospital open. The audit is not directed at Sutter but will include a look at the chain, Chan said.

Yee will use Friday's meeting to explain what are the current criteria for non-exempt status and discuss whether they are adequate and enforceable, Chan said. She will also share examples of how other states handle these mattters.

Meanwhile, the San Leandro Hospital issue has gone quiet. Despite a May report in San Leandro Patch that and lay off its employees, the chain has neither said nor done anything publicly.

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James July 03, 2012 at 03:03 AM
It is the policy of the Bonta campaign to not comment on the content of blogs posted by individuals whose only intent is obviously to incite. However, such unfounded attacks or insinuations against a candidate's wife and children are inappropriate and have no place in this campaign, or any other. Readers with genuine questions or concerns that will help in their decisions on which candidate to support can simply email or call the Bonta campaign. Thank you.
Fran July 03, 2012 at 04:21 AM
You just commented so you are not following your own policies. lol. I've read elsewhere his kids don't attend public schools. I'm sure he has the votes of Alamedans locked up just to get him out off their council. haha
Marga Lacabe July 03, 2012 at 04:34 AM
Jim, it's perfectly fine to have a policy of not responding to comments. BUT, if you are going to respond and say that those comments are unfounded, then you need to explain how they are unfounded. The implication otherwise is that 1) Bonta's kids don't go to public schools and 2) He's trying to hide that. You can get over 1, 2 is hard.
Marga Lacabe July 04, 2012 at 01:18 AM
So I talked to Rob Bonta about this, and his story is pretty much the story of every middle class parent in San Leandro. I don't know about Alameda, but I certainly can identify with it. He has 3 kids. The youngest is pre-school age. The two girls went to public elementary school in Alameda. The older one finished 5th grade as the budget cuts hit the Alameda public schools hard (as they did ours), which meant the elimination of programs in the middle school. So they decided to apply for private school and were lucky enough to have her accepted and get financial aid to cover it. They plan to bring her back to HS in Alameda. Bonta was a huge proponent of the schools parcel tax for this reasons. So, Deanna, it seems to me your criticisms are unfounded and maybe malicious. None of the members of the San Leandro City Council have children in public schools. Cassidy, Reed and Starosciak all have school age children who attend private institutions. Prola's children went all the way through private school, albeit many years ago. Gregory's did elementary & middle school here and then went off to private school. Cutter is the only one who have children who actually graduated from SLHS. Now, as little as I think of them as public officials, I don't think any of them are anti-public education. But as a parent, you have to do what's best for your children. And sometimes that means private school.
Marga Lacabe July 04, 2012 at 01:20 AM
Oh, I just realized I forgot about Souza. I guess it's because they're also grown. I suspect they did public school, but I don't know.


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