Health Care, Business Leaders Respond to Opinion Pieces Addressing Employer-Sponsored Coverage Law
The Sacramento Bee on Thursday featured letters to the editor responding to recent opinion pieces by columnist Daniel Weintraub on a law (SB 2) that would require some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage (Sacramento Bee, 6/17). 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. A measure to repeal SB 2 will appear on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot (California Healthline, 5/24). Summaries of letters from health care and business leaders are provided below.
- Jack Lewin: SB 2 is "a modest step to improve the health and productivity of our society" and presents a "viable solution to providing care to the seven million uninsured," Lewin, CEO and executive vice president of the California Medical Association, writes in a letter responding to Weintraub's May 23 column. Lewin writes that the "vast majority" of CMA's 35,000 members support SB 2 (Lewin, Sacramento Bee, 6/17).
- Richard Pan: Pan, president of the Sierra Sacramento Valley Medical Society writes that "most physicians, SSVMS and [CMA] do not have second thoughts about SB 2," disagreeing with Weintraub's May 23 column. Under SB 2, "[e]mployees will share the cost so all understand that health care is not free," Pan writes (Pan, Sacramento Bee, 6/17).
- Anthony Wright: Weintraub should "engage the law on its actual content, rather than making unsubstantiated claims," Wright, executive director of health advocacy group Health Access, says. He writes that SB 2 "protects the [health] coverage that millions of Californians get on the job." Wright states that employees who are concerned that health insurance "costs are being shifted onto them" should vote against repealing SB 2 (Wright , Sacramento Bee, 6/17).
- Anthony Wright: Health care providers and consumers are "largely in support" of SB 2, "[d]espite Weintraub's reporting," Wright states. "Weintraub apparently wants people to become self-pay patients without basic insurance," but this suggestion "only works in the short term for the healthy and wealthy," Wright adds (Wright , Sacramento Bee, 6/17).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.