Telecommunications Firms Launch Radio Ad Campaign in Response to Initiative To Fund Emergency Care
In response to the submission of about one million signatures in favor of a ballot initiative that would add a monthly surcharge on residential, business and wireless telephone bills to fund emergency department services, telecommunications firms on Monday announced a statewide radio advertising campaign that asks voters to reject what they call "a new tax on talking," the Ventura County Star reports (Herdt, Ventura County Star, 4/13). Supporters of the initiative on Monday submitted the signatures to qualify for the Nov. 2 ballot. The initiative, which is projected to generated $550 million annually, would add a 3% surcharge to business and wireless telephone bills, with fees for traditional residential lines capped at 50 cents per month. The Emergency Nurses Association of California, the California Chapter of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the California Primary Care Association support the measure, which would exempt seniors and other state residents who qualify for discounted phone service (California Healthline, 4/13). The California Medical Association also supports the measure. Proponents of the bill say the funding is needed to handle an ED "crisis" that has caused 60 ED closures in the state in the past decade. California EDs lost $325 million in 2000, according to a recent CMA study based on hospital financial data that was reported to the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development. Todd Harris, spokesperson for the Stop the Phone Tax campaign, said that the proposal is "not the right way" to address health care financing. "If they want to have a debate on health care in California, then let's have that debate," he said, adding, "But not a single new person would receive treatment or coverage under this proposal" (Ventura County Star, 4/13).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.