Sacramento Bee Columnist Examines Opposition of Some CMA Members to Health Insurance Law
Sacramento Bee columnist Daniel Weintraub on Sunday reported on opposition among some members of the California Medical Association to a law (SB 2) that would require some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage (Weintraub, Sacramento Bee, 5/23). Under SB 2, scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, employers with 200 or more employees will have 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 workers (California Healthline, 5/12).
According to Weintraub, a state agency would establish the minimum benefits required under SB 2 and would determine the fee for companies that do not provide health insurance to employees. Companies "in increasing numbers" will opt to pay into the state fund rather than provide health insurance to employees, Weintraub writes. Dr. James Knight, president of the San Diego County Medical Society, said, "Employers are going to pay the fee and the government is going to buy the lowest common denominator. We are going to build a bureaucracy that is going to run health care for probably 80% of the population." In addition, Weintraub writes that some physicians will opt out of the state-sponsored health insurance system, making it difficult for some patients to find health care providers. Dr. Marcy Zwelling-Aamot, president of the Los Angeles County Medical Association, said, "The politicians say that people are uninsured and we need to cover them," adding, "But coverage doesn't mean care" (Sacramento Bee, 5/23).
Additional information on SB 2 is available online.