Editorials, Opinion Piece Consider Ballot Measure To Fund Emergency Care
Two recent editorials and one opinion piece address Proposition 67, an initiative scheduled to appear on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would impose a surcharge on telephone bills to fund emergency care. Proposition 67 would impose a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund EDs, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment. If approved, Proposition 67 could raise about $550 million annually for hospitals statewide (California Healthline, 9/7). Summaries appear below.
Bakersfield Californian: A "yes vote on Proposition 67 will provide a vital boost statewide," helping to "defray costs for emergency and trauma care that is unpaid by patients or insurance companies," a Californian editorial states. Opponents of the measure argue that the phone surcharge "should not be used" for purposes other than the 911 system, but they "ignor[e] a basic fact of public funding -- the social compact," the editorial continues, adding that supporting all emergency services "helps everyone directly or indirectly." The editorial concludes, "Voting yes on Proposition 67" will help assure that "vital" emergency services are not "put at further risk" (Bakersfield Californian, 9/21).
- San Diego Union-Tribune: Proposition 67 "exemplif[ies] the kind of ballot box budgeting that has done much to get California into the fiscal crisis in which it finds itself," a Union-Tribune editorial says. The Union-Tribune states that voters should not pass a measure that would "lock in new spending," but if they do decide to "sock it to phone customers," the revenue generated by the surcharge should be used "to chip away at the structural deficit" (San Diego Union-Tribune, 9/29).
- Wesley Fields, Orange County Register: Although critics of Proposition 67 say that it would create a new tax for telephone users, the initiative would only "increase the existing 911 surcharge on our bills to a level that gives 911 callers reason to hope that the emergency care system will actually have the means to respond in a timely fashion to their unforeseen illnesses and injuries," Fields, former president of the California chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians, writes in a Register opinion piece. He adds that emergency care personnel and medical professionals who support the ballot measure "know that crowding and delays in [ED] care cannot be blamed only on the uninsured" or on undocumented immigrants. An aging population means that ED patients "are getting sicker all the time," and "voters of all ages -- regardless of their insurance status -- should vote for Proposition 67," Fields concludes (Fields, Orange County Register, 9/26).
Additional information on Proposition 67 is available online. 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.