Can we save Enloe Hospital? Interesting new measure, “Fair Hospital Pricing Act,” heads for 2016 ballot

28 Nov

I know it’s not even Christmas yet but Election 2016 is coming around fast.  Because of low turnout in the last couple  of elections, fewer signatures are required on petitions, and we might expect a record number of measures up for our approval or disapproval.

Reading Dan Walther’s column recently I found this measure posted – “The Fair Healthcare Pricing Act of 2016.”

What a mind-blower – State data reflect that private hospitals operating in this State, on average, charge patients 325 percent above the actual cost of providing health care, and some private hospitals charge more than 800 percent above the actual cost of the care provided.” 

Furthermore, “patients who are uninsured and underinsured often pay far more than insurers and health care service plans. The result is that unreasonably high hospital charges disproportionately affect uninsured and underinsured individuals and families.”   Yes, contrary to many liberal claims, the uninsured are not leeches, but end up paying more than the insured. 

The first question that enters my mind is, where does Enloe stand here? Closer to the 325 or the 800? 

What I know about Enloe is that 10 years ago they were charging $7,000/hour for ER treatment, and charging for entire hours instead of real time – meaning, if you came in at 11:30 and left at 12:15 you paid for two hours. Rooms were $7500/day, and that’s for half the room, private rooms were more.  I have that ER charge on paper, a total of $15,000 in charges for about a 55 minute visit to the ER.  I got the room charge from a woman in the billing department – I remember how she had a hard time spitting it out, I could tell she was shocked by the price herself. 

That was 10 years ago, I can’t find that information now. You have to go down there, they don’t have a phone number you can call and you won’t find anything on their website. They are very evasive about their pricing, that is, until you wake up from surgery and there’s a hospital rep sitting next to your bed, telling you he or she is there to “help you” figure out how you will pay your bill. A friend of mine is hooked for life – told he had cancer, what could he do? They attached his house, now he will pay that half-million dollar hospital bill on his mortgage for the rest of his life, after having paid his mortgage down to less than $30,000 before the incident. I don’t want to ask him if he feels lucky to be alive as he hauls it out to go to work at 6am, 8 – 10  hours on ladders, pushing 60 years old, knowing he has nothing to leave his kids but bills.

Another friend of mine got a call at work out of town that his father was ill and being taken to Enloe. He was at the hospital within four hours – his dad already owed $17,000 and had not even got a diagnosis of any kind.  The old man wanted to go home, the doctors told my friend they couldn’t tell him anything unless the old man  stayed the night. Whammo – $35,000 by noon the next day.

My husband racked up almost $80,000 in charges over a weekend.

Yeah, I know – anecdotes. Well, I bet you could get similar “anecdotes” from just about anybody who has two dimes to rub together to pay for a doctor. Thanks to Obamacare, my family is no longer welcome at the hospital, we don’t have insurance. There is no more “deal” – in past, if you could pay 10 percent within 30 days, that was it. That’s what the insurance companies pay, but they get a lot longer than 30 days. Now you must have insurance or you can be refused service. You  can’t even get into Immediate Care without your SSN, I don’t care if you’re waving a fistful of hundred dollar bills.  Obamacare is a disaster for the working class.

Here we call it “Covered California,” which is a crack-up after the report I read recently that says nobody is signing up, so California is hardly “covered.” My family was hit for $800/month, with a $12,000 deductible – who would buy that?  We could actually have taken a subsidized plan – The Bronze Plan, which I like to call “The Mr. Shit Plan.” That plan will not even get a person into Enloe, I’d say, you better head for O-ville, stat!

A friend of mine who worked at Enloe Hospital in a higher level position told me CEO Mike Wiltermood, whom he knew personally,  “makes about a million dollars.” He wasn’t exaggerating, that’s the normal compensation package for these people who do nothing to serve the patient. For years I tried to get Wiltermood to tell us his salary – he would not answer, instead attacking my credibility, telling people, “consider the source…“, meaning, me.  Consider the source? Of a question? Why can’t he answer? Cause  he does make “about a million dollars,” that’s not uncommon in a business where the customer is typically charged 325 to 800 percent of the cost of service. That gross overcharge pays Wiltermood’s salary, benefits and pension.  

I have not finished reading “The Fair Pricing Act,” but I will study it. These measures are tricky, it’s essential to read this stuff. It’s also a good idea to check out the people behind it. 

All I could find on Roberta B. Johansen, the woman who sent the initiative to the Attorney General for review, is that she backed “The Economic Recovery Tax Relief Act” in 2005, which, among other things, sought to eliminate tax loop holes for wealthy people and lower state sales tax. I have no idea whether this measure made the ballot, or,  if so, how it did, but that’s something we know about Roberta B. Johansen. She’s also a generous donor to UCSF hospital. 

This will take more snooping, but I think it’s worth it. Like the measure says, “Excessive hospital charges are a leading cause of bankruptcy and financial distress among uninsured and underinsured individuals and families. “

The poor management of Enloe Hospital undermines the health of our community, physically, financially, and spiritually.  We need to take our hospital back, maybe this is one way to do it. 

In loving memory of Dr. and Mrs. Joseph Chiapella.







4 Responses to “Can we save Enloe Hospital? Interesting new measure, “Fair Hospital Pricing Act,” heads for 2016 ballot”

  1. bob November 28, 2015 at 5:13 pm #

    Obamacare is a disaster for the working class.

    Here we call it “Covered California,” which is a crack-up after the report I read recently that says nobody is signing up, so California is hardly “covered.” My family was hit for $800/month, with a $12,000 deductible – who would buy that?  We could actually have taken a subsidized plan – The Bronze Plan, which I like to call “The Mr. Shit Plan.” That plan will not even get a person into Enloe, I’d say, you better head for O-ville, stat!

    Tell that to Melissa Dogtree and the rest of the Obama shills at the snooze and review. They lectured us
    ad nauseum for months in their rag about how we had to have it and how great it would be. Instead you HAVE to buy what amounts to a plan that offers pretty much sub catastrophic coverage and it will cost you several thousands a year. And if you don’t buy it you will be fined. And if you don’t pay the fine people with guns will come to put you in a cage, possibly with violent inmates and if you resist they will kill you. And the Snooze and Review loves it! F the Snooze and Review.

    Anyway, maybe Enloe is doing those bronze plan members a favor by turning them away. It’s a terrible hospital. I know people who have been seriously injured or died there due to neglect and incompetence.

    • Juanita Sumner November 29, 2015 at 6:41 am #

      My grandma got bedsores at Enloe when she broke her hip – they drugged her into total unconsciousness and left her lying in her bed on her back. This freaked my family out – I thought she was dead when I walked into the room. My mother predicted bedsores, and kept complaining, but they told her my grandma would get well faster if she couldn’t move. So she went home with horrible bedsores, and my mother was left to treat them.

      Jonathan Studebaker died of bedsores at Enloe. Tom Gascoyne complained to a nurse and she handed him his head in a bedpan. Studebaker was dead within about a week. The nurses said he complained too much and was mean to them, so I assume, they just let him lay there and die.

      Melissa Dogtree is the typical liberal. Here she is, championing every bum that waddles in with their bindle and snarling cur, but she doesn’t have any compassion for the working class people that pay the bills around here. She even ran a story about a company in Paradise who found it cheaper to pay the fine and give their employees raises than to participate in Obamacare. Without comment, she just ran an article like that without comment, because, I guess, she couldn’t manufacture any intelligent bullshit to say. Gobstopped!

      Remember, it’s easy for the self-anointed and self-righteous to say ‘No’, be cruel, leave “the wrong kind” of people out. “Especially people who care about strangers, who care about evil, and social injustice. Do they only care about the bleeding crowd – how about a needing friend?” And that’s Melissa!

      • bob November 29, 2015 at 10:02 am #

        My father died at Enloe. I remember walking into the room he was in and two people were trying to draw blood from him. The one with the needle was unable to do it and kept jabbing him with the needle. The other one said, “It’s OK. He’s not going to make it anyway.” They were using my father to train their new staff because they figured he was not going to recover and would die there. I saw many other terrible things there as well.

        As bad as Enloe is I think many, maybe even most, other hospitals are just as bad. The medical system in this country is really screwed up. And Obama Care just makes it worse. It should be called the Unaffordable No Care Act. But the medical system has been corrupted for a long time. If you are a patient in a typical hospital and you don’t have someone from outside the system watching out for you then you are in big trouble.

      • Juanita Sumner November 29, 2015 at 10:09 am #

        Dr. Chiapella and a group of his co-workers from Enloe walked away after Mrs. Enloe died in 1964. She had run the hospital until about six months before her death of breast cancer. This group didn’t like the new owners, and walked away to start Community Hospital. For a while we had a choice in Chico. Long story short, Enloe did everything they could to undermine Community Hospital, buying it out, gee, about 20 years ago? And closing it.

        They tried the same thing with Glenn General – but Cal Worthington and some of his friends managed to save Glenn General for now. God bless Doc Chiapella, and God Bless Cal Worthington.

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