Schwarzenegger Campaigns for Repeal of Employer-Sponsored Health Coverage Law
Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) this weekend "played" on his "extraordinary popularity" at rallies across the state, hoping to "sway opinion" on a number of ballot initiatives and "urg[ing]" state residents to vote to repeal a state law (SB 2) that will mandate employer-sponsored health coverage for some businesses, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Wildermuth, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/1).
Proposition 72 allows California residents to 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, 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 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, 10/28).
On a bus tour that will last through Monday, Schwarzenegger "kept his pitches for President Bush and Republican legislative candidates to a minimum" and focused on "the nonpartisan propositions in which he has a stake," the Sacramento Bee reports (Talev, Sacramento Bee, 11/1).
Schwarzenegger presented "shorthand slogans for every measure" at the "carefully staged events," the San Jose Mercury News reports (Folmar, San Jose Mercury News, 10/31).
The governor said that some people are "confused" by the 16 initiatives on this year's statewide ballot and advised voters to look for guidance on his Web site and in a voter guide he has mailed to residents statewide.
However, according to the Los Angeles Times, "most voters seem now to have made up their minds," and "many people" at the rallies "said they had decided how they were going to vote and had come to see the governor" (Salladay/Garvey, Los Angeles Times, 11/1).
"It is very important for you to know, the special interests are at it again. The special interests are fighting us," the governor said at a rally in Redding (Sacramento Bee, 11/1). He added at an event in Del Mar that voters, who were "the power lifters for progress ... the power lifters for California," should "terminate the special interests" by following his lead (San Jose Mercury News, 11/1). According to the Bee, Schwarzenegger "did not acknowledge" the businesses that have supported his position for repealing SB 2 (Sacramento Bee, 11/1).
The governor also "avoided any mention of two propositions on which he is at odds with his party," including Proposition 71, which would fund embryonic stem cell research through the issue of state bonds, the Mercury News reports (San Jose Mercury News, 11/1).
Schwarzenegger is expected to appear in several more cities on Monday, including Marina del Rey, San Diego, Fresno, Stockton, Monterey and Goleta (Los Angeles Times, 11/1).
In related news, supporters of SB 2 last week "accused Wal-Mart of trying to intimidate its workers into opposing" the law and asked Attorney General Bill Lockyer (D) to investigate whether the company was improperly "trying to coerce its workers," the Times reports.
The Yes on 72 campaign released an internal Wal-Mart e-mail that stated "associates would no longer be able to choose Wal-Mart's health care plan or our HMO offerings, but rather the control would be put in the hands of the government." The e-mail adds, "Our opponents are using this ballot measure to attack Wal-Mart and slow down our growth and your career opportunities."
Wal-Mart spokesperson Cynthia Lin said, "We believe that voters will see these latest maneuvers for what they are -- attempts to hide the very real and negative impacts of a proposition that is opposed by hundreds of California employers, local governments, nonprofits, community groups, law enforcements, school districts, medical groups, in addition to Gov. Schwarzenegger and virtually every major California newspaper."
A spokesperson for Lockyer said the attorney general's office would conduct a preliminary investigation into Wal-Mart's actions (Halper/Vogel, Los Angeles Times, 10/30).
Several broadcast programs reported recently on Proposition 72:
- KCET's "Life & Times": The segment includes comments from Dr. Richard Corlin, gastroenterologist, former president of the American Medical Association and the Los Angeles County Medical Association, and a supporter of SB 2; Robert Stern, president of the Center for Governmental Studies; and restaurant owners in the state (Guinyard, Life & Times," KCET, 10/28). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KCET's "Life & Times": The program on Monday will include a segment on Proposition 72 (Guinyard, "Life & Times," KCET, 11/1). The complete transcript and audio of the segment in RealPlayer will be available online after the broadcast.
- KPBS' "KPBS News": The segment includes comments from Anthony Wright, executive director of Health Access (Goldberg, "KPBS News," KPBS, 11/1). The complete transcript is available online. The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
- KQED's "The California Report": The segment includes comments from Dr. Michael Sexton, incoming president of CMA, an emergency department physician and a supporter of SB 2; Jill Yegian, senior program officer at the California Health Care Foundation; and founders of restaurants in the state (Shafer, "The California Report," KQED, 10/29). The complete segment is available online in RealPlayer.
Additional information on propositions 71 and 72 is available online. This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.