California Healthline Rounds Up Health-Related Initiatives That Could Appear on 2004 Ballots
This year will "potentially [be] one of the busiest initiative years in California history," including several health-related initiatives, the Los Angeles Times reports. Descriptions of possible health-related initiatives appearing on either the March or November ballot are provided below.
- A $550 million tax increase on telephone use to reimburse doctors for the cost of providing emergency room care;
- A $750 million bond to pay for construction at children's hospitals;
- About $295 million in annual bonds over a 10-year period to fund stem cell research to treat a variety of diseases;
- A referendum to repeal a law (SB 2) signed by former Gov. Gray Davis (D) that requires some employers to provide health coverage for employees;
- A 1% income tax increase for state residents whose adjusted gross income is $1 million or more to generate $700 million per year to pay for mental health care for people with severe mental illnesses (Morain, Los Angeles Times, 1/11);
- A new version of Proposition 187, which California voters approved in 1994 but was never implemented because of court challenges. Proposition 187 would have restricted access to nonemergency health and other public services for undocumented immigrants (California Healthline, 12/22/03);
- A referendum that would mandate several of Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's (R) proposals to reduce costs for the state workers' compensation system (California Healthline, 1/6); and
- A referendum for a state constitutional amendment that would require parents of an unemancipated minor to be notified by a doctor before an abortion could be performed, except in cases of a medical emergency. The referendum includes a legal bypass under which a judge could authorize a waiver of notification in cases of emotional or physical abuse by the parent or guardian, as well as monetary penalties and damages for violations of the notification provision (Geissinger, Oakland Tribune, 1/12).
According to the Times, the increase in ballot initiative activity can be attributed to "legislative gridlock," the state's budget deficits and Schwarzenegger's involvement in ballot initiatives. While only one initiative has qualified for the November ballot, as many as 12 could eventually do so, and as many as five initiatives could appear on the March statewide ballot, the Times reports. "It will be a wild ballot year," California Business Roundtable President Bill Hauck said (Los Angeles Times, 1/11).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online. 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.