Field Poll Results Indicate Increased Opposition to Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Law, Opinion Piece States
Supporters of a law (SB 2) that will require some employers to provide health insurance to workers or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage "can hardly take solace" in results of a recent Field Poll indicating that 50% of likely voters are in favor of upholding the law because support for the law is declining, according to Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 6/10). A referendum to repeal SB 2 will appear on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot. The law, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, 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. The law will exempt employers with fewer than 20 employees. The law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 employees unless the state provides them with tax credits to subsidize the cost of health insurance for employees (California Healthline, 6/8).
According to Weintraub, the results of the most recent poll indicate that support for upholding the measure has "shrunk markedly" since January, when a similar Field Poll was conducted. Weintraub writes that the decline in support shows "just how vulnerable" the measure will be to recently launched campaigns against it. According to Weintraub, the "true nature of the proposal began to emerge" when pollsters included a "more detailed" description of SB 2 that made it seem less like a "mainly private venture" than a "government-run program, with fewer choices, potentially higher costs and an even bigger bureaucracy to deal with than they face today." Weintraub adds that the "whole notion will be hopelessly tainted" when opponents of the measure use a "not-so-secret weapon" and remind voters "that the bill was passed by an unpopular Legislature and signed by former Gov. Gray Davis (D) just days before he was recalled from office." Weintraub concludes, "The coming campaign over mandated health coverage will be long, expensive and spirited. But in the end, the most likely outcome will be the status quo" (Sacramento Bee, 6/8).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.