Los Angeles Times Looks at Effect of Ballot Measures To Fund Emergency Care, Retain Law Mandating Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage
The Los Angeles Times last week examined the state medical system's recent history of "lurching from crisis to crisis" and looked at the possible effects of two measures included on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that will "present voters with tough choices between emergency services and taxes," as well as state mandates for some employers (Felch, Los Angeles Times, 8/29).
Proposition 67, would impose a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund EDs, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment. If approved, Proposition 67 could raise about $550 million annually for hospitals statewide (California Healthline, 8/20).
Proposition 72 is a referendum on a state law (SB 2), scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, that will require employers with 200 or more employees to provide health insurance to workers and their dependents by 2006 or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage. By 2007, employers with 50 to 199 employees will have to provide health insurance to workers only. Companies with fewer than 20 workers will not have to comply with the law, and the law also will exempt employers with 20 to 49 workers unless the state provides them with tax credits to offset the cost of health coverage. A group led by the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Restaurant Association has launched a campaign urging voters to vote no on Proposition 72 (California Healthline, 8/24).
The Chamber says SB 2 is a $5.7 billion tax on employers and a $1.5 billion tax on workers that will ultimately slow job growth, according to the Times. Opponents of Proposition 67, including major telephone firms, say the tax "is not justified because it would benefit large health care corporations without guaranteeing better service," the Times reports.
Some hospitals and health care advocates who support the initiatives say the measures would provide needed additional funds for emergency care to "help stabilize" the health care system "in the short term," the Times reports. However, even the initiatives' supporters acknowledge that the two measures would not address the health system's underlying problems. According to the Times, "most experts agree" that problems faced by the health care system cannot be fully addressed without "a national solution to the problem of the uninsured" (Los Angeles Times, 8/29)
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.
The ballot title and summary for Proposition 72 is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the summary.
The ballot title and summary for Proposition 67 is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the summary.