Sacramento Bee, Editorials Examine Propositions 72, 67
The Sacramento Bee on Monday examined how SB 2 could employers and workers in the state (Rojas, Sacramento Bee, 10/4). SB 2, a state law scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2006, will require some employers to provide health insurance to workers or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage.
SB 2 will require employers with 200 or more employees 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. Employers with fewer than 20 employees 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.
Proposition 72, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, , will allow California residents to vote "yes" to uphold or "no" to repeal SB2. Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) last month announced that he supports the repeal of SB 2 (California Healthline, 9/27).
According to the Bee, the vote on Proposition 72 comes as the number of Californians without health insurance continues to grow and employers experience double-digit increases in health plan premiums (Sacramento Bee, 10/4).
Two editorials on Sunday examined Proposition 72.
Sacramento Bee: Although the state health care system "is heading toward a meltdown," Proposition 72 only "offers the illusion of a safe harbor" and would provide "no cure for underlying problems of health cost inflation," according to a Bee editorial. The editorial states that SB 2 will take the "same broken system and add new costs and new mandates on top of it" and provide a "dangerous new incentive for growing companies to leave the state." The requirements for employers under SB 2 are "so extensive" that they will create "a disincentive for a company to grow," the editorial states. The editorial concludes that Proposition 72 would do "little to cut the excessive costs inside the health care system. It just forces companies to eat them. This is the opposite of a true solution" (Sacramento Bee, 10/3).
San Francisco Chronicle: Although the "concept" behind Proposition 72 is "undeniably appealing," the measure is "seriously flawed" and "has all the makings of a disaster," a Chronicle editorial states. According to the editorial, voters should reject the "well-intentioned" measure, which would not reduce "skyrocketing premiums" and would "extend health care to just one out of every six uninsured Californians." The editorial adds that Proposition 72 "could have significant economic impacts" because employers currently "struggling to provide basic coverage" for employees might have to "reassess the size of their workforce" as a result of requirements under SB 2. "There is plenty wrong with the status quo of our health system," but "it makes no sense to fight dysfunction with dysfunction," the editorial states, adding, "Californians should reject Proposition 72" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/3).
A second Chronicle editorial recommends that voters reject Proposition 67, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would impose a surcharge on telephone bills to fund emergency care (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/3). Proposition 67 would impose a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund EDs, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment. Passage of Proposition 67 could raise about $550 million annually for hospitals statewide (California Healthline, 9/30).
According to the editorial, the source of the tax revenue under Proposition 67 is not "logical," but an "even more serious concern is whether these funds are well-targeted to address the emergency room crisis." The editorial states that "ballot box budgeting" can limit the ability of elected officials to "determine whether money is being well spent." The editorial concludes, "We recommend a 'no' vote" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/3).
Additional information on propositions 67 and 72 is available online.