At HCA Shareholder Meeting, Nurses, Other Workers Call for Transparency Into Political Spending by Nation’s Largest Hospital Corporation

Frontline Healthcare Workers Urged Shareholders to VOTE YES FOR POLITICAL AND LOBBYING TRANSPARENCY, Resolutions #4 and #

SEIU Members Working at HCA Hospitals Raise Concerns About HCA’s Contributions to Florida Gov. Ron Desantis,Others Who Block Access To Health Coverage, Limit Voting Rights

As Potential Medicare Fraud Concerns Grow, HCA Workers Urge More Disclosure on Attempts to Influence Regulators, Policy-Makers

NASHVILLE, TN – Nurses and other workers who care for patients on the frontlines of HCA hospitals across the U.S. spoke out today during the annual shareholders meeting of HCA Healthcare [NYSE: HCA]. They called on America’s largest hospital corporation to provide more information about its spending to influence healthcare and workforce policies.

Frontline healthcare workers at HCA sought to address fellow shareholders, urging them to VOTE YES for transparency in political spending and lobbying, Resolutions #4 and #5.

HCA’s Large Contributions to Gov. Ron DeSantis, Others Who Block Access to Healthcare

Frontline caregivers at HCA question whether HCA’s political contributions support the long-term value of HCA shares. They believe that HCA shareholders need more information to understand potential risks that contributions to right-wing politicians like Ron DeSantis may create.

HCA, through its Florida PACs, has funneled millions to Governor Ron DeSantis’ campaign over the last few years. Since 2017, HCA’s PACs have contributed at least $7 million to several right-wing PACs in Florida—including Florida Prosperity Fund, Voices of Florida Business PAC, Associated Industries of Florida Political Action Committee, Floridian’s United for Our Children’s Futures, and Floridians for a Stronger Democracy. These PACs, in turn, passed more than $2 million to DeSantis during that same time period.

DeSantis is a fierce opponent of efforts to expand access to Medicaid in Florida. Under his leadership, Florida has refused to adopt the standard for Medicaid eligibility that 38 states and the District of Columbia already use. Doing so would extend Medicaid coverage to nearly 1.4 million additional Floridians. Medicaid expansion would begin to address the enormous health disparities in the state, as 58% of Floridians who fall within the coverage gap are people of color. 

Expanding Medicaid reduces the number of uninsured patients, potentially strengthening hospital revenues and profit margins.  It also helps reduce health disparities and improve population health. It is material information for HCA shareholders to what extent HCA’s political contributions are supporting DeSantis and other politicians—in Florida and other states—who similarly oppose Medicaid expansion.  It is accordingly in the interest of shareholders for the company to disclose more information about its political contributions.

“HCA needs to stop supporting politicians who put up barriers that exclude huge numbers of patients from accessing healthcare,” said Xochitl Gonzalez, a patient care tech at Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks, CA.

Growing Concerns About Potential Medicare Admissions Fraud at HCA

SEIU members who work at HCA hospitals joined with the working people of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), Communications Workers of America (CWA) and United Farmworkers of America (UFW) to raise concerns around HCA’s potential attempt to influence regulators and elected officials who could enforce oversight of HCA’s aggressive ER admissions policies.

A recent report from SEIU details how the company may have brought in nearly $2 billion in excess Medicare payments since 2008 by over-admitting patients. The alleged fraud may have put seniors and overburdened healthcare workers at risk. In the early 2000s, the company was the subject of the largest healthcare fraud settlement in U.S. history when the company agreed to pay a total of $1.7 billion dollars in order to settle both civil and criminal charges.

Major proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Service (ISS) recommended HCA shareholders vote in support of Proposals #4 and #5, which are also supported by major institutional investors including SOC Investment Group and CalSTRS, the country’s second largest public pension system.

The ISS recommendation in support of the proposals represents a rebuke to the hospital chain, which has asked its shareholders to vote against Proposals #4 and #5.  ISS states that these proposals would enable shareholders to better understand the risks and benefits relating to the company’s management of its political spending and lobbying activities.  

“Shareholders are calling on HCA to disclose its political spending and lobbying in order to determine if corporate resources are being used in ways that align with stakeholder interests and the company’s long-term reputation and success,” said Dieter Waizenegger of SOC Investment Group. “While transparency is essential across companies and industries, HCA presents particular urgency. In addition to falling behind its peers in the healthcare industry when it comes to disclosures, HCA is also under scrutiny for aggressive ER admissions practices, which raise grave reputational concerns.”

In an exempt solicitation, the SOC Investment Group urged other HCA shareholders to vote FOR Proposals #4 and #5 during HCA’s annual shareholders meeting. The group is calling on HCA to disclose details of both its direct and indirect spending on political contributions and lobbying, citing concerns over aggressive admissions practices and a lack of transparency when compared with other publicly traded companies, particularly those in the healthcare industry. The SOC Investment Group works with pension funds sponsored by unions representing more than 4 million working Americans and managing pension funds with more than $250 billion in assets. These pensions are also substantial HCA shareholders.

HCA is the largest health system in the US and one of the wealthiest health systems in the world, with 180 facilities in 21 states, and a market capitalization of more than $77 billion. In 2021, the company made nearly $60 billion in revenue, with more than 40% of that coming from Medicare or Medicaid, and $7 billion in profits.

More than 23,000 frontline healthcare workers at HCA hospitals are united in SEIU across 6 states.

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More than one million healthcare workers across hospitals, in home care and in nursing homes, are united in SEIU, the nation’s largest union of healthcare workers. SEIU is an organization of nearly 2 million members united by belief in the dignity and worth of workers and the services they provide. SEIU is dedicated to improving the lives of workers, families and communities to create a more just and humane society.