- Kaiser Permanente and Service Employees International Union-United Healthcare Workers West are launching a nonprofit with the aim of boosting California’s healthcare workforce, coming off the union's recent labor contract with the health system.
- The $130 million organization, called Futuro Health, has a goal of graduating 10,000 new licensed and credentialed workers for the state in the next four years, including nurses, medical coders, radiology technicians and laboratory staff.
- Futuro will also work with online institution Western Governors University and said "additional partnerships are in the works."
Oakland, California-based Kaiser Permanente narrowly avoided a strike of 85,000 employees in September. Workers alleged unfair labor practices as the system raked into profits. Union members overwhelmingly approved a seven-day strike, but leaders settled on a contract before it went forward.
The agreement included guaranteed annual wage increases, a defined benefit pension plan and education, and training and advancement opportunities. Futuro stems from those plans.
California alone is projected to face a shortage of 450,000 healthcare workers by 2024, mirroring a struggle across the country, according to the Public Policy Institute of California. The Medicare Payment Advisory Commission has warned of a potential shortfall of primary care physicians in particular as the number of hospitalists has shot up in recent years.
"Futuro Health represents a new model for tackling the workforce shortage and training workers especially when they no longer stay with one employer for long," SEIU-UHW President Dave Regan said in a statement. "Ensuring that all people have access to high-quality, affordable health care and a living wage is a priority of SEIU-UHW."
Futuro will be led by Van Ton-Quinlivan, who most recently was executive vice chancellor of workforce and digital futures of California Community Colleges. In 2013, Ton-Quinlivan was honored by President Barack Obama's administration as a White House Champion of Change.
The initiative is far from the only program from Kaiser focused on the surrounding community. In October, the system announced a plan to push eligible California residents to sign up for the state's supplemental nutrition assistance program. It has also targeted housing security and other social determinants of health.