Chamber President Speaks in Opposition to Employer-Sponsored Health Care Measure
California Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Allan Zaremberg on Wednesday during a Long Beach Rotary Club meeting recommended that state residents vote "no" on Proposition 72 to repeal SB 2, a state law that will require some employers to provide health insurance to their employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage, the Long Beach Press-Telegram reports (Jergler, Long Beach Press-Telegram, 10/7). Under Proposition 72, a referendum on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, state residents can vote "yes" to uphold or "no" to repeal SB 2.
Under SB 2, employers with 200 or more employees will be required 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.
Companies with fewer than 20 workers will not have to comply with the law, and the law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 workers unless the state provides them with tax credits to offset the cost of health coverage (California Healthline, 10/6).
The chamber has called SB 2 a "job killer." Zaremberg said that Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has vetoed 10 bills deemed by the chamber as anti-business, adding, "This state is going in the right direction."
Zaremberg said, "You gotta vote 'no' on Proposition 72" (Long Beach Press-Telegram, 10/7).
In related news, the San Bernardino County Sun on Monday examined how Proposition 72 could affect Community Hospital of San Bernardino, a 96-year-old, 321-bed hospital that has become the "poster child for what's wrong with medical care" in the state.
Community Hospital has experienced rising numbers of uninsured and underinsured patients; absorbed costs that should have been reimbursed by Medicare and Medi-Cal; and is dealing with increasing operational costs.
Assembly member John Longville (D-San Bernardino) said, "People need to vote for Proposition 72. If you don't, [SB 2] will die." He added, "If we have a large number of folks coming into the hospital who are uninsured or underinsured, it's because employers do not provide adequate benefits." Longville said currently there is an economic incentive to employers who do not offer employees health insurance. Longville added, "We need to take away that incentive" (Wells, San Bernardino County Sun, 10/4).
The Sacramento Bee on Friday published a transcript of a television advertisement sponsored by the California Medical Association and the Service Employees International Union that urges voters to vote "yes" on Prop. 72 (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 10/8).
Additional information on Proposition 72 is available online.