San Francisco Chronicle Examines Issues Surrounding Measure To Fund Emergency Care
The San Francisco Chronicle on Wednesday examined Proposition 67, a measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot that would impose a 3% surcharge on telephone bills to fund emergency care for the uninsured (Lucas, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/20). If approved, Proposition 67 would raise about $550 million annually for hospitals statewide to help finance emergency departments, trauma centers and health clinics and pay for physician training and emergency medical equipment (California Healthline, 10/13).
Proponents, including emergency department doctors, have raised nearly $3 million in support of the proposition. Telephone companies and other opponents of the measure have raised nearly $7 million for the "no" campaign.
Jack Lewin, executive vice president of the California Medical Association, said the "emergency system is unraveling," adding, "We have seven million uninsured people, three million noncitizens. The system can't bear that amount of uncompensated care."
If the measure passes, Lewin estimates that the average family would pay an additional $1 per month on telephone charges, including residential and cell phone lines.
Several phone companies have urged customers in their monthly bills to oppose Proposition 67. Opponents say that although there is a 50 cent monthly cap on residential telephone lines, the measure does not include caps for cell phone or business lines.
Todd Harris, a spokesperson for the "no" campaign, said, "There's no limit how high your taxes could go on your cell or business phone. It's a tax on talking that won't do a single thing to improve California's emergency care system" (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/20).
Additional information about Proposition 67 is available online.