Calif. Lawmakers Eye New Fees, Taxes To Boost Health Care Programs
California lawmakers this legislative session have introduced more than two dozen bills -- including some health care-related bills -- that aim to increase fees or taxes, the Sacramento Bee reports.
The bills, most of which were introduced by Democrats, propose taxes or fees to bolster existing state services or to try to alter what lawmakers consider to be harmful habits.
Details of the Bills
The health-related bills include:
- AB 760 -- by Assembly member Roger Dickson (D-Sacramento) -- which would impose a tax ofÂ five cents per bullet on sales of ammunition to increase funds for mental health services;
- SB 588 -- by Sen. Bill Emmerson (R-Hemet) -- which would clarify an existing law so that a charge of $30 would be imposed for the search and retrieval of medical records, as well as a 50-cent fee for the first 25 pages and a 25-cent fee each for additional pages; and
- SB 622 -- by Sen. Bill Monning (D-Carmel) -- which would impose a one-cent-per-ounce tax on soft drinks and other sweetened beverages to raise funds for programs that address issues like childhood obesity and dental disease.
Debate Over the Bills
Mark Hedlund -- a spokesperson for Senate President Pro Tempore Darrell Steinberg (D-Sacramento) -- said, "If you have behaviors that are exacerbating health problems, which are in many cases creating health costs that are picked up by taxpayers, that's something to look at."
However, many GOP lawmakers have vowed not to support new taxes.
Assembly member Shannon Grove (R-Bakersfield) asked, "Did you ever really expect [Democrats] to keep their word about fiscal restraint?"
Jon Coupal -- president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association -- argued that the state's elected officials have an "insatiable appetite" for more revenue.
Assembly Speaker John PÃ©rez (D-Los Angeles) in a written statement said that Gov. Jerry Brown (D) has clearly indicated that he will not raise taxes without letting residents vote on such proposals (Sanders, Sacramento Bee, 3/18).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.