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August 14, 2020

Letters to the Editor, May 20

Experience with ‘for-profit’ health care

To the Editor,

Watsonville Hospital nurses are protesting the “profits before patients” direction that our once great community hospital has taken since its purchase by the New York conglomerate Quorum.  This for-profit corporation owns hospitals in three states. Here is my experience with “for-profit” health care:

Two years ago I took my wife to Watsonville “Community” Hospital for severe abdominal pain. The staff was great, and the doctor ordered a CT scan, but the scanner was “down for scheduled maintenance,” so the only thing the doctor could do (after six hours of waiting) was send us to Dominican Hospital to start waiting again. 

A patient-centered hospital would have rented a portable CT scanner, but Watsonville “Community” is now a “for-profit” business, and therefore chose to cut corners and put profit before my wife’s health.

I propose a name change: “Watsonville’s Corporate Profit First Health.”

Don Eggleston

Aptos

•••

PVUSD compensation debate

To the Editor,

Our local school district, PVUSD, and their two unions are in the middle of contract negotiations and both sides are losing. The board meeting on May 10 is an example of the frustrations on both sides.

I have a suggestion on how to remedy that situation. But first, let’s go back in history to understand the dilemma that they are in.

Some time ago, the teacher’s union, PVFT, decided to negotiate salaries separately from benefits. This was a brilliant move. The employees were able to get the best benefit package of any district greater than 10,000 students. According to Ed-Data, PVUSD’s benefits are 134 percent higher than the state average. However, salaries were low. Over time they have been able to increase salaries significantly, 11 percent over the last three years alone. This has caused the district to cut funding for other expenses in order to accommodate these increases.

A simple proposal is to put salaries and benefits into one bundle and negotiate what that should be of the revenues. Across the state, that runs 80-87 percent with PVUSD at 84.6 percent last year and the state average at 81.7 percent. This puts PVUSD Total Compensation above the state average. There are some small, rich districts, where this is not true and we will exclude them from this discussion. So the reason that PVUSD teachers have lower wages is that the benefits take away from them being higher; simple math.

Several health plans would be provided and each employee would be given the option to choose the plan that best fits their situation. A young, single teacher in good health could opt for a health plan with high deductibles and co-pays in order to maximize their take home pay. An employee with a family would choose a different option, and so on. In the long run, their retirement pay would be increased by including the health benefits in their pay but they would also have to pay more taxes with the increased income.

There are some benefits that are part of the total compensation: disability, unemployment and retirement are examples of these additional benefits.

Both unions need to step back and reconsider the tact that they have been on for the last several years. There is only so much money, revenue. Some amount of that revenue is needed to run the schools and maintain them. That is 13 to 17 percent of the budget. If the unions try to squeeze more money from the district it will take away from these needed services. Rather, they should think about offering choices for the employees and let them choose what is best for them rather than offer a one-size-fits-all health benefit package.

 

Bill Beecher

Aptos 

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