California Medical Association President Supports Emergency Services Ballot Initiative
California Medical Association President Dr. Robert Hertzka is promoting an initiative on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would levy a telephone surcharge to "help bail out" emergency departments, trauma centers and emergency doctors, the Monterey County Herald reports (Livernois, Monterey County Herald, 6/15). The initiative would add a 3% surcharge to residential and mobile phone bills to generate an estimated $550 million annually to fund ED services. The measure would cap the tax at 50 cents per month for residential customers (California Healthline, 6/4). Seniors and others on basic life-line rates would not have to pay the surcharge. Hertzka said that revenue from the initiative would help strengthen the ED "safety net," especially in public hospitals and community clinics that treat a high percentage of uninsured patients. Telecommunications companies have launched "fierce opposition" to the measure, the Herald reports.
In addition, Hertzka is promoting the idea of "consumer-driven" health care, through which individuals are responsible for a greater share of their health care costs. According to Hertzka, consumer-driven health care would result in more responsible use of medical services in part because people would be more conscious of their cost. Hertzka said, "The overwhelming opinion among practicing physicians is that a major overlooked issue in health care financing is that people are completely disconnected from paying for the service they receive," adding, "People who have the means should pay for part of their health care" (Monterey County Herald, 6/15).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.