Washington Post Examines Measures on November Ballots, Including Health-Related Initiatives in California
The Washington Post on Saturday looked at the inclusion of more than 150 measures on November ballots in more than 30 states, including health-related ballot measures on the California ballot. According to the Post, debate over health care measures is among the issues that might increase voter turnout in some states, although "there is little agreement on an overall partisan effect."
M. Dane Waters, founder of the Initiative & Referendum Institute, said, "We're seeing a resurgence of social issues this year," adding, "They are fodder for election campaigns."
However, the Post reports that the number of ballot measures included on ballots has decreased since 2002, "but, as in the past, some measures are expected to draw heavy spending."
Proposition 72 -- a referendum on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot under which voters can uphold or reject a law (SB 2) that will require some employers to provide health insurance to their employees or pay into a state fund to provide such coverage -- is "probably the biggest health care fight," the Post reports (Broder, Washington Post, 9/18).
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 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, 9/15).
The Post also cites other health-related measures included on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot (Washington Post, 9/18). Summaries of those ballot measures are provided below.
- Proposition 63 would increase by 1% the state personal income tax on individuals whose annual incomes exceed $1 million to finance an expansion of mental health services. The measure would raise an estimated $700 million annually to care for people with severe mental illnesses.
- Proposition 67 would add a 3% surcharge to residential telephone bills to fund hospital emergency services and training. The initiative, which would not include cellular or business lines, would generate an estimated $550 million annually to fund emergency department services.
- Proposition 71 would raise an average of $295 million annually for a decade to promote stem cell research through the issue of state bonds. The measure would provide funds for a new stem cell research center at a University of California campus, as well as grants and loans for laboratory projects at other colleges. State analysts say the measure would cost a total of $6 billion, including interest (California Healthline, 9/13).