CALIFORNIA: CALPERS ENDORSES PROPOSITION 214
The California Public Employees' Retirement System, CalPERS,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.
announced yesterday its endorsement of Proposition 214, one of
two patient protection measures on the state's November ballot.
LOS ANGELES TIMES reports that CalPERS' endorsement "is a
potentially significant boost" for proponents of the measure.
Proposition 214 aims to protect doctors who disclose medical
advice not approved by health plans and establish "safe" staffing
levels at hospitals. Another measure, Proposition 216, is
similar to 214, but includes a provision that would tax health
care corporations (see AHL 9/18). CalPERS board of directors
voted eight to five to endorse Proposition 214. Janet Maira, a
spokesperson for "a business group opposing" both ballot
initiatives, said that CalPERS officials "gave in to 'tremendous
pressure from special interest groups.'"
IRONY: TIMES reports that CalPERS is "one of the nation's
most influential health care purchasers," covering almost one
million California employees, dependents and retirees. The group
has "gained national attention by aggressively wielding its
enormous buying power to demand that HMOs and other insurers
slash medical premiums and provide more information on the
quality of medical services." Insurers have, in turn, pressured
doctors and hospitals across the state to cut their fees and
reduce medical costs. TIMES notes that "ironically it is those
very cost-cutting efforts ... that gave impetus to Propositions
214 and 216." The proponents of the measures "contend the cuts
have gone so far that they are harming overall quality of medical
care" (Olmos, 9/19).
PROP. POLL: A new LOS ANGELES TIMES poll "suggests a
likelihood that voters will be confused by the competing"
Propositions 214 and 216 on the November ballot. A four-day
survey of 1,333 Californians, including 1,059 registered voters,
shows that 17% of likely voters say they will vote for both
initiatives while 13% say they will vote for Proposition 216 and
11% say they will vote for Proposition 214. Thirty-seven percent
of respondents said they would vote against both initiatives and
22% did not know how they would vote (Morain, 9/19).