Assembly Targets Sutter as Alta Bates Strike Date Nears By RICHARD BRENNEMAN

Friday September 09, 2005

As Tuesday’s strike deadline nears for the East Bay’s Summit Alta Bates hospitals, a state legislator announced plans Thursday for hearings on the tax-exempt status of their corporate parent. 

Johan Klehs, chair of the Assembly Committee on Revenue and Taxation, notified Sutter Health CEO Pat Frey that his committee is “particularly interested in conducting a detailed examination of Sutter Health, given the scrutiny it has received from the U.S. Senate Finance Committee, the U.S. House Ways and Means Committee and the U.S. House Energy and Commerce Committee.” 

The Oakland and Berkeley facilities are among 13 Sutter units facing the Tuesday strike deadline from SEIU-United Healthcare-West, which represents licensed vocational nurses and other hospital workers. 

The California Nurses’ Association, which recently signed a contract with Summit Alta Bates, has announced plans to walked out in sympathy with SEIU-UHW, as have several other unions who have also signed contracts. 

In his letter to Sutter, Klehs said that he would be following up with a request for information and documentation on a variety of subjects, including: 

• Charity care. 

• Executive compensation. 

• Billing and pricing practices. 

• Treatment of the uninsured. 

• The chain’s tax exempt status. 

• Affiliations with for-profit entities. 

• Financial performance. 

“In addition, you and other corporate officers should be prepared to be prepared to publicly testify,” wrote Klehs.