The Service Employees International Union looked at existing studies and documentation from the 55 acute care hospitals in Harris County.
The $1 billion figure represents both charity care provided by hospitals for people who can't pay, and it includes bad debt, that is, bills for services rendered that have gone unpaid. The report also outlines that Texas health insurance premiums are higher because of the amount of unreimbursed medical care.
How to ease emergency room overcrowding and how to provide more medical homes for the uninsured and underinsured is an on-going debate in the community. In addition to local janitors, also attending the event was Rosie Perez who directs Christus Saint Joseph Hospital's Community Outreach. She says many groups in the community are working on the problem of uninsured.
SEIU recently broke ranks with the AFLCIO. The services union is now undertaking an effort to unionize janitorial workers in the greater Houston area. Attempts to reach the larger employers of janitorial services were unsuccessful or officials declined to comment.