Newspapers Examine Advertisements Addressing Referendum on Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Law
Two newspapers recently published analyses of television and radio advertisements addressing Proposition 72, a referendum on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot under which state residents can vote "yes" to uphold or "no" to repeal SB 2, a state law that will require some employers to provide health insurance to their employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage. Under SB 2, 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.
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 (California Healthline, 9/28).
The San Francisco Chronicle analyzed an advertisement by the No on Prop. 72 campaign -- backed by the California Chamber of Commerce and the California Restaurant Association -- that has aired for one week throughout the state and depicts a restaurant owner who says her business is threatened by SB 2. According to the Chronicle, the woman in the ad is an actor, not a business owner.
The Chronicle reports that business owners "may or may not have to pay more" under SB 2 and that "health plans themselves would not be 'government-run' but rather the state would offer a variety of health care plans through private companies, much the same way employers do."
A second ad by the Yes on Prop. 72 campaign, which is backed by the California Medical Association and the Service Employees International Union, features a doctor discussing the referendum and is "designed to counter the argument that Prop. 72 would create a government-run health care system," according to the Chronicle. "While the health care would not be provided by the government, it would be bought through a government system," according to the Chronicle (Gledhill, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/5).
According to the AP/San Jose Mercury News, the use of an actual doctor "gives proponents an authority figure with impressive credentials to rebut the opponents' characterization." The ad "also enables the proposition's supporters to point out" that CMA, the California Nurses Association and the Consumer Federation of California support the campaign -- "which are likely to have more sway with voters than the fast-food chains and department stores." The AP/Mercury News analysis includes a transcript of the Yes on Prop. 72 ad (Lawrence, AP/San Jose Mercury News, 10/4).
Additional information on Proposition 72 is available online.