Employer-Sponsored Health Care Bill Could Provide Answers to Uninsured Problem, Column States
A bill (SB 2) that Gov. Gray Davis (D) on Sunday signed into law will provide "just the kind of grand-scale experiment this country needs to assess possible solutions to the problem of our growing ranks of uninsured," columnist Michael Waldholz writes in a Wall Street Journal Online opinion piece (Waldholz, Wall Street Journal Online, 10/8). The law requires employers with 200 or more employees to provide health coverage to workers and their dependents by 2006 to avoid paying into a state fund that would provide such coverage. Businesses that employ 50 to 199 workers will have to offer health insurance to employees only by 2007. Employers with fewer than 20 workers will be exempt from the law, and those with 20 to 49 workers are exempt from the law unless the state provides tax credits to offset the cost of health benefits (California Healthline, 10/6). The law will "attempt to reverse the recent trend among many companies to reduce their workers' health benefits, shift more expenses to employers or eliminate coverage altogether," Waldholz writes. However, opponents of the bill, who plan to challenge it in court, say that it will cause unemployment and uninsured rates to increase, according to Waldholz. "[W]e should all hope ... that the [legal] challenges fail and we at least have the chance to find out" what the effects of the bill will be, Waldholz writes, concluding, "California might finally provide us with something we really can use for addressing the uninsured: answers on whether one approach to the problem works" (Wall Street Journal Online, 10/8).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.