California Medical Association’s Catastrophic Coverage Proposal Better Than Employer-Sponsored Health Insurance Law, Editorial States
Legislation to require Californians to maintain basic coverage for catastrophic medical costs would be "a vast improvement on SB 2," a law that will require some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage, a San Jose Mercury News editorial states (San Jose Mercury News, 3/17). The California Medical Association this weekend voted to support such legislation. The legislation would require residents who can afford it to obtain basic coverage for major catastrophic injuries and illnesses through their employers; those who cannot obtain such coverage through their employers would receive tax credits. CMA's house of delegates on Sunday also voted to reject a motion that would have withdrawn the group's support of SB 2. The law, 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 (California Healthline, 3/15). According to the editorial, California does not have the funds to implement SB 2, and CMA intends to "push the plan at the federal level." The editorial adds that "Californians should strike down SB 2 when it appears on the November ballot" and "push the state's congressional delegation to support CMA's proposal or an alternate plan that will ensure that all Americans have some form of basic health care insurance." The editorial concludes, "[A]ny conversation [on the future of health care in the United States] must start with finding a way to provide health care coverage for America's 43 million uninsured" (San Jose Mercury News, 3/17).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.