California Medical Association Votes Against Withdrawing Support for Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Law
The California Medical Association's house of delegates on Sunday voted to reject a motion that would have withdrawn the organization's support for a law (SB 2) that will require some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/15). SB 2, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, will require employers with 200 or more employees to provide health insurance to workers and their dependents by 2006 or pay into the state fund. Employers with 50 to 199 employees will have to provide health insurance only to workers by 2007. The law will exempt employers with fewer than 20 employees. The law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 employees unless the state provides them with tax credits to subsidize the cost of health insurance for employees. A referendum to repeal the law will appear on the November ballot. The resolution asked that CMA "join with the California Chamber of Commerce, the Los Angeles County Medical Association, the San Diego Medical Society and others in seeking to repeal or legally block the implementation" of SB 2 (California Healthline, 3/12). CMA CEO Dr. Jack Lewin said that if voters reject the measure to repeal SB 2, lawmakers likely will offer proposals to make changes to provisions in the law related to coverage for dependents, employees' share of payments and other provisions. "We know this bill is going to have to be amended to be acceptable to business," he added.
CMA also voted to support legislation that would require Californians to maintain basic coverage for catastrophic medical costs, which would "provid[e] a safety net for citizens and reduc[e] the burden on hospital emergency rooms," the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. Such legislation would require that residents who can afford the cost to obtain basic coverage for major catastrophic injuries and illnesses; those who cannot obtain such coverage through their employers would receive tax credits. Lewin said, "In an ideal world, everyone will at least have protection against being bankrupted by health care" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 3/15).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.