Contributions to Campaigns for, Against Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Law Could Reach $15 Million
Contributions to the campaigns asking voters to uphold or repeal SB 2 -- a state law that will require some employers to provide health insurance to employees -- could reach more than $10 million, as interested parties "try to get their message out amidst the clutter of the presidential campaign and 15 other ballot measures," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/28).
SB 2 is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, and 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.
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.
Under Proposition 72, California residents can vote "yes" to uphold or "no" to repeal SB 2 (California Healthline, 10/27).
Wal-Mart this week donated $500,000 to the No on 72 campaign in response to an advertisement endorsed by proponents of the measure. That ad cited a University of California - Berkeley Labor Center study that found state taxpayers pay $32 million a year for subsidized health care for Wal-Mart employees.
In addition, Target, Macy's West, Sears and J.C. Penny each have donated at least $200,000 to the No on 72 campaign.
The California Restaurant Association earlier this month contributed $2.5 million to the No on 72 campaign and is the campaign's largest contributor.
The Service Employees International Union last week donated $2.75 million to the campaign urging voters to vote "yes" on Proposition 72.
The United Food and Commercial Workers Union, which represents restaurant employees and food preparers, last month donated $1 million to the Yes on 72 campaign.
The San Jose Mercury News on Wednesday published an analysis of an ad aired by the No on 72 campaign.
The ad calls SB 2 "bad medicine for health care and California's economy." The ad also states that upholding SB 2 would result in the loss of 150,000 jobs and cost more than $7 billion annually for a "government-run health care plan."
According to the Mercury News, the program cost estimate is drawn from a Los Angeles County Economic Development Corporation estimate that supporters of SB 2 said is too high. The 150,000 job loss figure is derived from a report by the Employment Policies Institute, which SB 2 supporters say supports the restaurant industry.
Proponents of SB 2 have said the health plan that would be provided by contributions to a state fund from employers who opt not to provide health coverage is not a government-sponsored plan. According to the Mercury News, a state agency would oversee the pool and determine the benefits employers and the pool must provide (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 10/27).
Proposition 72 is "the wrong solution and will only serve to further delay better approaches" to reducing the number of uninsured people in the state, a Mercury News editorial states. State officials "should instead offer incentives to employers to provide health insurance for employees" and "aggressively pursue ways to reduce premiums, which will further ease the burden on employers," according to the editorial. The editorial concludes that voters should vote "no" on Proposition 72 (San Jose Mercury News, 10/28).
Additional information on Proposition 72 is available online.