KQED’s ‘California Report’ Examines Proposed Alcohol Tax To Fund Emergency Room Care
KQED's "California Report" yesterday examined a bill introduced by Sen. Gloria Romero (D-Rosemead) that would impose a five-cent per-drink tax on alcoholic beverages to raise about $800 million to reimburse hospitals and physicians for uncompensated care provided to people involved in alcohol-related accidents. According to the California Medical Association, urgent care facilities had a $390 million deficit in 2001. In addition, state lawmakers say that more than half of all emergency and trauma cases are alcohol-related, with related costs totaling approximately $20 billion annually, including drunk driving and alcohol-related crime, according to KQED. Dr. Michael Sise, director of the trauma center at San Diego Scripps Mercy Hospital, said that about 60% of trauma center and emergency room patients have alcohol- or drug-related problems and that alcohol frequently contributes to the high-risk behavior that caused the injury for which they are seeking care. According to KQED, Romero's bill has been approved by the Senate Health and Human Services Committee but "will likely face a stiff battle" as it proceeds through the Legislature (Goldberg, "California Report," KQED, 6/2). The full segment is available online in RealPlayer.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.