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In less than three months, healthcare networks and individual hospitals have pumped more than $51 million into a proposed ballot measure meant to lock up revenue from a Legislature-approved fee on acute-care hospitals.

The measure would limit lawmakers' ability to change or repeal the "Medi-Cal Hospital Reimbursement Act," which lawmakers passed last year as SB 239. With hospitals' backing, the law continued a hospital quality-assurance fee first passed in 2009 through 2016.

The money helps pay for children's health coverage, Medi-Cal, and other programs. Even though hospitals pay the fee, matching federal money means a net benefit of $10 billion for the hospital industry from 2014 through 2016, according to a legislative analysis.

The proposed ballot measure would strip the Jan. 1, 2017 sunset date from the law. It also would require voter approval for any changes to it. And any attempt to repeal the law entirely would need a two-thirds vote of the Legislature.

In addition, the proposed initiative declares that revenue from the law and interest doesn't count against the state's school-funding guarantee.

Proponents have until May 1 to submit 807,615 valid voter signatures to qualify the proposed constitutional amendment for the Nov. 4 ballot.

Kevin Riggs, a spokesman for the campaign, said proponents have gathered about 1.3 million signatures and will begin turning them in next week.

Riggs said the proposal will eliminate uncertainty about the fee's future. Hospitals have raised so much money already because they know they will have to educate voters, he said.

"There are a lot of people in California who are not familiar with the issue. Hospitals want to make sure their message doesn't get lost in the shuffle," Riggs said.

The chart below shows the top donors to the initiative effort, through Monday.

Donors to "Californians United for Medi-Cal Funding and Accountability"
The Providence Journal
California Health Foundation And Trust$9,501,975
Dignity Health$8,478,390
Childrens Hospital Los Angeles$3,418,305
Adventist Health$3,020,143
Loma Linda University Medical Center$2,416,560
Sutter Health$2,080,335
Children's Hospital Central California$2,013,968
Community Medical Centers$1,963,985
Memorial Health Services - Memorial Care Health System$1,668,562
Lucile Salter Packard Children's Hospital$1,344,858
Sharp Healthcare$1,238,095
Children'S Hospital And Research Center Oakland$1,237,842
Rady Children's Hospital$1,204,120
Children's Hospital Of Orange County$1,130,274
Integrated Healthcare Holdings, Inc.$1,014,701
Citrus Valley Health Partners$814,341
City Of Hope National Medical Center$780,947
Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center$765,550
Valley Presbyterian Hospital$606,680
Kp Financial Services$595,293
Prime Healthcare Services, Inc.$590,554
Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center$582,061
College Health Enterprises$549,831
Good Samaritan Hospital$473,859
Community Health Systems, Inc. CHS Professional Services Corp.$340,075
Community Memorial Health System/Community Memorial Hospital$279,822
Stanford Hospital & Clinics$247,613
Northbay Healthcare Corporation$166,453
Universal Health Services Of Delaware, Inc.$154,976
Emanuel Medical Center$145,406
Providence Health Systems$141,513
Marshall Medical Center$137,482
Cottage Health Systems$123,344
St. Rose Hospital$121,848
Pacific Alliance Medical Center$117,971
Trinity Health$104,236
Delano Regional Medical Center$100,602
Enloe Medical Center$87,497
Oroville Hospital$82,921
Hca The Hospital Corp Of America$82,199
Parkview Community Hospital Medical Center$79,066
Madera Community Hospital$75,746
Lodi Memorial Hospital$69,091
Dameron Hospital Association$66,590
Ridgecrest Regional Hospital$66,477
Beverly Community Hospital Association Dba Beverly Hospital$61,100
Redlands Community Hospital$60,490
John Muir Health$57,052
Prime Healthcare Services - Montclair, LLC$54,222
Physicians For Healthy Hospitals$54,082
George L. Mee Memorial Hospital$50,990
Barton Memorial Hosptital$50,328
Fairchild Medical Center$49,561
Banner Lassen Medical Center/ Banner Health$40,110
Colusa Regional Medical Center$32,468
Huntington Hospital$32,468
Cedars Sinai Medical Center$30,000
Mad River Community Hospital$20,127
Eisenhower Medical Center$20,000
Methodist Hospital Of Southern California$20,000
Presbyterian Intercommunity Hospital Interhealth Corp.$20,000
Choc Children'S At Mission Hospital$18,806
Temple Community Hospital$15,279
Community Hospital Of The Monterey Peninsula$10,000
Henry Mayo Newhall Memorial Hospital$10,000
Saint John'S Health Center$10,000
San Antonio Community Hospital$10,000
Valleycare Health System$10,000
Mission Community Hospital$9,990
Orchard Hospital$9,430
Downey Regional Medical Center$7,500
Verdugo Hills Hospital$7,500
Chinese Hospital$5,678
Olympia Medical Center$5,000
Doctors Hospital Of West Covina$1,250
Avalon Medical Development Corporation Dba Catalina Island Medical Center$1,000
Health Bridge Children'S Hospital - Orange$1,000

PHOTO: Medical staff conduct a visualase procedure at Sutter Health, a Sacramento-based health care company. Sutter Health/John Milne


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