My turn: My son lives his best life because of a children’s hospital
My son Max was born with a congenital heart defect called Tetralogy of Fallot. Max had his first surgery when he was three months old. In the 13 years since then, he has undergone 13 surgeries and received three pulmonary valves and four pacemakers. Earlier this year, he had open-heart surgery to replace his valve.
Also in those 13 years, Max has become active in school and sports. He has starred in a Super Bowl commercial, and he has become an advocate for families and kids dealing with the effects of congenital heart defects.
Max’s extraordinary life is made possible by extraordinary medical technology and by the exceptional care provided by his doctors and medical staff. On Nov. 6, Proposition 4, the Children’s Hospital Bond, will give Californians the opportunity to ensure that children’s hospitals in our state continue to offer that kind of high-quality care to young patients like Max.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles has been a part of my family since Max’s diagnosis. As a team, we have experienced our highest highs and lowest lows at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles. The nurses, doctors, and administrators at Children’s Hospital Los Angeles are our co-conspirators for Max’s health. For us, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is not just a hospital. It is a vital support system.
Children’s Hospital Los Angeles is one of 13 hospitals in California that specialize in caring for children and young adults under age 21, regardless of family income. Proposition 4 will allow hospitals to upgrade their infrastructure and pursue the latest technology and research, all of which contribute to the health of my son.
Every time I walk into Children’s Hospital Los Angeles with Max, I remember what it was like when we first received his diagnosis. Having a sick child is life-altering enough; no family should have to consider whether or not they can afford top-notch care.
The experience we’ve had with Max’s care not only makes me feel more connected to other parents I meet at the hospital. It also allows me to reassure them in their moment of uncertainty and fear.
As parents, we all want what is best for our kids.
Californians are fortunate that our children’s hospitals are among the best in the nation. Max’s surgeries and medical tests require the kind of state of the art technology and equipment that Proposition 4 will allow California’s children’s hospitals to continue to offer. That will make a world of difference for young patients.
It has certainly made a difference for Max, which is why our family frequently represents Children’s Hospital Los Angeles in Washington, D.C. to encourage lawmakers to protect health care for children and to support funding to train the next generation of pediatricians.
California’s children’s hospitals treat 2 million children every year. They perform 97 percent of all pediatric organ transplants and 96 percent of all pediatric heart surgeries and conduct 76 percent of all pediatric cancer treatments.
They are also premier pediatric research centers making cutting-edge discoveries that benefit all kids. Proposition 4 will provide funding for the next decade and a half of advancements and expansion in California’s children’s hospitals, which means even more kids in our state will have access to the best level of care available.
There are enough worries for parents when their child enters a hospital. Worrying about the quality of care and costs should not be among them. I know what it feels like to be in that position, and I want to do my part to make sure that every family in California has access to the care they need. I will be voting yes on Proposition 4 on Nov. 6. I hope you will join me.
Jennifer Page is a Children’s Hospital Association Advocate, Children’s Hospital Los Angeles Ambassador co-chair, and Ronald McDonald House Ambassador, [email protected]. She wrote this commentary for CALmatters.
My turn: Californians shouldn’t subsidize private hospitals
Proposition 4, an initiative to authorize $1.5 billion in taxpayer-backed bonds to support construction and major equipment at 11 children’s hospitals, is primarily intended to benefit the hospitals that are funding the campaign supporting the measure.
Of the 11 hospitals designated to receive funding, eight are private nonprofit hospitals. The other five are University of California hospitals.
If voters approve the measure, the eight private hospitals will receive 72 percent of the revenue from the bond. The remaining 28 percent would go to the five UC hospitals, and a small amount would go to other hospitals that provide specialized services to children.
The association representing the private hospitals chose to put this measure on the Nov. 6 ballot by gathering signatures rather than trying to persuade the Legislature to provide the funding.
It’s definitely more expensive to gather signatures than it is to lobby the Legislature. So why did the hospitals choose to pay for the signature campaign?
Perhaps it’s because the Legislature has better information about the financial status of these hospitals.
These eight private hospitals pay their chief executives well. In 2015, executives at each hospital received salaries in excess $1 million at each.
Most of them spend significantly less on services than they receive in revenue. That surplus revenue, supplemented with fundraising efforts, can fund these major capital projects.
If Proposition 4 passes, taxpayers will pay an average of $80 million per year for the next 35 years, most of it to assist private hospitals.
For this taxpayer cost, the eight private hospitals will receive $135 million each. Let’s do a little math. Each hospital contributed $681,500 to pay to place the initiative on the ballot. Proposition 4 would be a great return on investment: $198 for each $1 invested by the hospitals.
What could California do with an additional $80 million per year? The state could build more affordable housing, or strengthen our crumbling infrastructure, or help pay for health care for more of our children, or fund any of a number of other critical needs.
For all these reasons, the League of Women Voters is opposition Proposition 4. It is ballot box budgeting and deserves to be rejected on Nov. 6.
Helen Hutchison is president of the League of Women Voters of California, [email protected] She wrote this commentary for CALmatters.