Health Care Issues Account for ‘Large Share’ of California’s Problems, Columnist Writes
Citing Propositions 61, 63, 67 and 72, columnist Peter Schrag writes in a Sacramento Bee opinion piece that it is "no coincidence that of the 16 ballot measures that Californians will face in November, four deal with health care." According to Schrag, a "large share" of California's public and private "problems" are "related to the escalating cost of health care and the shrinking access" that all residents have to medical services (Schrag, Sacramento Bee, 10/13).
Proposition 61 is a $750 million initiative that would pay for construction, expansion and equipment for children's hospitals. Including interest, the program would cost about $1.5 billion over 30 years.
Proposition 63 aims to finance an expansion of mental health services by increasing by 1% the state personal income tax on people whose annual incomes exceed $1 million. The measure would raise an estimated $700 million annually to care for people with severe mental illnesses.
Proposition 67 would add a 3% surcharge to residential telephone bills to fund hospital emergency services and training. The initiative would generate an estimated $550 million annually to fund emergency department services.
Proposition 72 allows state residents to vote "yes" to uphold or "no" to repeal SB 2, a state law scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, that will require some employers to provide health insurance to workers or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage (California Healthline, 10/12).
Effects of the nation's "fraying health care system" are felt by "cities, counties, school districts and virtually every private employer," Schrag writes, adding that only "the very affluent" "members of Congress and the favored public employees who are still covered by the rich programs that taxpayers support" are not affected.
According to Schrag, the California Chamber of Commerce "may be right" that the costs of implementing SB 2 "would be prohibitive," but he adds that the law would "put at least a dent in the cost shifting from the uninsured to the rest of the system but probably only a small one" (Schrag, Sacramento Bee, 10/13).
Additional information on Propositions 61, 63, 67, and 72 is available online.