California Healthcare Association Withdraws Support for Ballot Measure To Fund Emergency Services
Officials from California Healthcare Association on Wednesday withdrew their support for a proposed measure to raise the tax on telephone services to fund emergency care because results from a recent poll found that "voters would not support anything on the ballot they believed to be a tax," the Sacramento Bee reports (Rapaport, Sacramento Bee, 4/8). The initiative proposes adding a 3% surcharge to residents' telephone bills and is projected to generate $550 million to fund emergency department services. Opponents of the initiative said the money raised would boost hospital profits instead of helping low-income state residents obtain care (California Healthline, 3/29). CHA, along with the California Medical Association, was a "critical funding source," providing much of the measure's funding to date, the Bee reports. Members of the Coalition to Preserve Emergency Care, which is sponsoring the ballot initiative, say they still plan on Monday to submit more than 900,000 signatures to qualify the measure for the Nov. 2 ballot. Kelly Hayes-Raitt, spokesperson for CPEC, says the group has enough money to "raise a formidable campaign" but added that CPEC has "considerably less" than the $5 million raised by telecommunications company SBC Communications in opposition to the proposal. Todd Harris, spokesperson for Californians to Stop the Phone Tax, said that telecommunications providers view the measure as a tax imposed on one private industry by another private industry. Loren Johnson, president of the California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, said that Cal-ACEP "remained committed" to placing the measure on the ballot, even if other groups withdraw their support, the Bee reports (Sacramento Bee, 4/8).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.