Newspapers Weigh National Significance of State Health-Related Ballot Initiatives
The AP/San Luis Obispo Tribune on Friday examined four health-related measures on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would provide about $5 billion in funding for children's hospitals, mental health care, emergency and trauma systems and stem cell research. State residents also are being asked to require some businesses to provide health insurance for workers.
According to the AP/Tribune, the measures "could clear the way for a wave of future initiatives that bypass the state Senate and Assembly and make their case for money directly to the public."
Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, said, "I'm very skeptical about the [initiative] process," adding, "The legislative process with its committees and opportunities for hearings ... is really much better designed to deal with these."
Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies, said, "California voters are being asked to make major policy changes in this election ... this is not like picking a state flower." He added, "We all complain about health care, but we don't want to pay for it. The other choice would be government-run health care, and I don't think people want that. ... [O]r we all go to the emergency room, and I don't think people want that."
According to the Center for Governmental Studies, the health-related initiatives "might have trouble passing," in part because state residents have approved only 10 of 38 health-related ballot measures since 1914, the AP/Tribune reports (Jablon, AP/San Luis Obispo Tribune, 10/29).
The Oakland Tribune on Sunday examined how Propositions 71 and 72 could have national significance for "two of the nation's most controversial topics" (Vesely, Oakland Tribune, 10/31).
Proposition 71 would issue state bonds to raise an average of $295 million annually over a decade to promote human stem cell research and provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure could cost a total of $6 billion, including interest.
Proposition 72 allows California residents to vote "yes" to uphold or "no" to repeal SB 2, a state law that will require some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage (California Healthline, 10/27).
Stern said, "I think [propositions 71 and 72] have tremendous national importance. When it comes to issues in California, others tend to pay attention."
Stern added that voters' rejection of Proposition 71 probably would not change Democratic presidential nominee Sen. John Kerry's (Mass.) support for stem cell research, but the measure's failure likely would reaffirm President Bush's decision to uphold funding limits on such research in a second term.
The passage of Proposition 71 "could embolden Congress to push for broader policies on stem cell research," according to the Tribune (Oakland Tribune, 10/31).
Additional information on propositions 71 and 72 is available online.