Schwarzenegger Campaign To Repeal Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Law Less Vigorous Than Efforts on Other Ballot Measures
Although Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) has "made improving the state's business climate a top priority," he "has not done the same" for Proposition 72, the San Diego Union-Tribune reports (Mendel, San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22). Under Proposition 72, California residents can vote "yes" to uphold or "no" to repeal SB 2, a state law that will require some employers to provide health insurance to employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage.
SB 2, which is scheduled to take effect Jan. 1, 2006, would 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.
Companies with fewer than 20 workers 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 (California Healthline, 10/21).
Businesses have spent millions of dollars on a campaign to defeat Proposition 72, but Schwarzenegger has devoted little attention to the measure, except a recommendation that residents vote "no" on the initiative in a 12-page "voter guide" campaign mailer sent to five million voters. Other measures, particularly propositions concerning gambling, "get far more attention in the mailer," the Union-Tribune reports.
Polls suggest that state residents continue to support upholding SB 2.
However, business groups "are not publicly urging Schwarzenegger to shift his campaign time and money" to efforts to repeal SB 2, according to the Union-Tribune ( San Diego Union-Tribune, 10/22).
Physicians, nurses and community advocates on Thursday held a rally in support of Proposition 72 at the University Medical Center in Fresno, the Fresno Bee reports. Several speakers said the ballot measure would save taxpayers money because it would "stem the tide of uninsured workers who end up in the emergency room at taxpayer expense," the Bee reports (Correa, Fresno Bee, 10/22).
The state's health care system "is in critical condition" and must be reformed "before it breaks down altogether," but Proposition 72 is not "part of the solution; it is part of the problem," a Los Angeles Daily News editorial states. "No matter how the proponents of [SB 2] sell it, this initiative would do nothing to stop the increase of health care costs," the editorial states (Los Angeles Daily News, 10/21).
KPCC's "Talk of the City" on Friday will include a discussion of Proposition 72 (Felde, "Talk of the City," KPCC, 10/22). The complete segment will be available online in RealPlayer after the broadcast.
Additional information on Proposition 72 is available online.