Proposition 67 Supporters Call Measure ‘Band-Aid’ for State Emergency Care System
Supporters of Proposition 67, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would establish a telephone bill surcharge to fund emergency care, maintain that the initiative "wouldn't solve" problems facing emergency departments -- many of which are "flooded" with uninsured patients who cannot afford to pay for care -- but would help in the short term, the Contra Costa Times reports (Russell, Contra Costa Times, 10/30). Proposition 67 would raise about $550 million annually for hospitals statewide to help finance EDs, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment (California Healthline, 10/29).
Peter Warren -- a spokesperson for Coalition to Preserve Emergency Care, which proposed Proposition 67 -- said that the measure would serve as "a Band-Aid" for the state emergency care system. He added, "It's a new tire on an old car. We're not dealing with the engine, we're not dealing with the other three bald tires." Supporters of Proposition 67, who have raised about $4 million to campaign in favor of the measure, include hospitals, physicians, nurses, firefighters, paramedics and other health care providers.
Opponents of Proposition 67, who have raised more than $8 million to campaign against the measure, include telecommunications companies, senior groups, 911 dispatchers and sheriffs. Although opponents "don't deny the system is stressed," they consider the use of a telephone bill surcharge to fund emergency care "just bizarre," according to the Contra Costa Times. "There's no nexus between taxing phones and emergency room care," Todd Harris, a spokesperson for Californians to Stop the Phone Tax, said, adding, "It sets a terrible public policy precedent" (Contra Costa Times, 10/30).
Some supporters of Proposition 67 who have "grown frustrated" with the "inability to get what it says is a simple message across" distributed a news release that served as the basis for a story on Friday in USA Today about a dog that "managed to speed-dial 911 with its paw when its owner had fallen out of her wheelchair and needed medical attention," the Los Angeles Times reports. The release, titled "Even a Dog Understands the 911 and Emergency Care Connection," was designed to "show the link between the 911 system and emergency rooms," according to the Times (Halper/Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 10/30).
KPBS' "KPBS News" on Friday reported on Proposition 67. The segment includes comments from Bob Hertzka, president of the California Medical Association (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 10/29). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
In addition, KCET's "Life & Times" on Monday will include a segment on Proposition 67 (Okarski, "Life & Times," KCET, 11/1). The complete transcript and audio of the segment in RealPlayer will be available online after the broadcast.
Additional information on Proposition 67 is available online.