Health Insurance Law Opponents Misrepresent Facts, Columnist Writes
Californians Against Government Run Healthcare -- the group behind a November ballot referendum to repeal a state law (SB 2) that would require some employers to provide workers health insurance or pay into a state pool -- has "shaded facts about the health care law," Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik writes (Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 3/29). Under SB 2, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, employers with 200 or more employees will be required 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, 3/23). The coalition is "a front for the California Chamber of Commerce and a couple of other employer lobbies," Hiltzik writes. In a press release, it "prominently listed" Citizens Commission on Human Rights, a "Los Angeles-based human rights organization," as one of its backers, but it failed to say that the group is associated with the Church of Scientology, according to Hiltzik. He adds that the Church of Scientology "considers psychiatry a fraud and resents forcing employers to pay for it through mandated insurance." Although new estimates for the legislation have been available "for weeks," the coalition continues to cite figures from the Los Angeles County Economic Development that it would cost employers $5.7 billion and workers $1.3 billion, Hiltzik notes. The new calculations show the legislation would cost a total of $4.7 billion -- of which employers would pay $2.2 billion, according to Hiltzik. He writes that the Chamber of Commerce has used the old figures to label the bill a "job-killer," even though it would not affect firms with 50 or fewer employees for several years, according to Hiltzik. The chamber and the coalition also have "misrepresent[ed] SB 2 as a 'tax,' a word that always gets a rise out of California voters," Hiltzik writes (Hiltzik, Los Angeles Times, 3/29).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.