Passage of Measure B Could Serve as National ‘Bellwether’ for Health Care Reform, Editorial States
Although California had not approved a new property tax since 1978, Los Angeles County voters last November passed a ballot measure that will raise property taxes to fund the county's trauma care centers and emergency rooms, an "impressive reversal" that could serve as a national "bellwether" for health care reform, according to an Akron Beacon Journal editorial (Akron Beacon Journal, 1/6). Under Measure B, county property taxes will increase by three cents per square foot, or an average of $42 per year. The measure also will establish a three-cent per square foot tax on structural improvements; a half-cent per square foot tax on parking improvements; and a tenth-of-a-cent per square foot tax on agricultural, vacant or similar land. County officials expect that the measure will raise about $175 million in additional revenue each year. The county will spend $92 million on emergency rooms, $63 million on 13 public and private trauma centers and $20 million to fight bioterrorism (California Healthline, 1/2). The editorial points out that the nation faces a shortage of nurses, "outrageously high" medical malpractice insurance premiums, "soaring" prescription drug costs and an increased number of uninsured residents at a time when "states and cities are dealing with a fiscal crisis described as the worst since World War II." According to the editorial, the passage of Measure B "may be a signal of another shift of national import: the need for dramatic initiatives to rescue a health care system under increasing strain" (Akron Beacon Journal, 1/6).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.