CMA Seeks Ballot Measure to Boost Funding for Emergency Rooms and Trauma Centers
The California Medical Association is planning to spend up to $5 million on a ballot measure in November that would ask voters to pay increased state fees to help shore up the state's emergency rooms and trauma centers, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports. The CMA has submitted two ballot measures with different funding sources to the Attorney General's office. The first would secure funding by increasing fines for moving motor vehicle violations, and the second would increase the fees that state residents pay for 911 emergency telephone services. CMA Vice President Thompson said that within a month, the association will decide which proposal to advance and then will seek the necessary signatures to place it on the November ballot. Thompson said that the organization, which will work with hospitals and firefighters to promote the measure, concluded that help from state lawmakers was unlikely this year given the state's $12.5 billion budget deficit. Last year, physicians and hospitals supported legislation to boost funding for the state's financially troubled emergency rooms and trauma centers, but the bill failed. "This year we're not going to whine. We're going to the people," Thompson said. According to the CMA, the state's emergency rooms lose more than $300 million a year, and ER doctors provide $100 million worth of free care. The ballot measure would seek to raise $300 million a year, which would be "set aside in a separate account that could be tapped by hospitals, physicians, firefighters and paramedics." But the Union-Tribune reports that the initiative faces "strong opposition." Jon Coupal, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Association, said, "This is consistent with our fears that in the wake of the budget shortfall, the governor and special interests would seek new fees that they would not call taxes. ... We have a chance to defeat this if we can convince voters that it's a thinly disguised tax increase" (Ainsworth, San Diego Union-Tribune, 2/6).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.