Most Voters Unaware of Provisions of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Law, Poll Shows
Most registered voters in the state "know little" about a law (SB 2) that will require some employers to provide health insurance to workers or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage, but 50% said they support upholding the legislation, according to results of a recent Field Poll, the San Jose Mercury News reports. A referendum to repeal the law will appear on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot (Feder Ostrov, San Jose Mercury News, 6/8). SB 2, 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 (California Healthline, 6/4). Researchers polled 647 registered voters between May 18 and May 24 and found that 23% are aware of the referendum. Once informed of the law's major provisions, 28% of voters said they favor overturning the measure (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8). Twenty-two percent of voters are undecided on the issue (San Jose Mercury News, 6/8).
Poll results show that Democrats, liberals and supporters of presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry (Mass.) support the law by a ratio of three to one; and Republicans, conservatives and supporters of President Bush oppose the measure "by a narrower margin" of four to three, according to the Sacramento Bee. Political moderates and independents, and those not supporting either of the majority candidates support the legislation by a two-to-one ratio. In addition, the poll found that voters who are concerned that they could lack coverage and those who are concerned that "someone close to them" could lack health insurance in the near future support SB 2 by a two-to-one ratio. According to the Bee, these voters constitute 44% and 11% of the state electorate, respectively (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 6/8). The latest results indicate that support for the law has decreased by 15% since January, when a similar Field Poll found that 65% of voters supported the legislation and that 27% opposed the measure (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/8). Field Poll Director Mark DiCamillo said that the latest poll results indicate that the legislation could be upheld in the election. He added, "It will come down to a heavyweight battle between these two interest groups" (San Jose Mercury News, 6/8). The Field Poll is available online. Note: You must have Adobe Acrobat Reader to access the poll.
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.