Data Contradicts Chamber of Commerce's Statements in Opposition to SB 2
The Institute for Labor & Employment (ILE) at the University of California released a study that found that 64% of state businesses support a requirement that employers either provide health care for workers or pay a fee into a state fund to cover the uninsured. The new data contradicts statements made by the State Chamber of Commerce in opposition to SB 2.
Under the proposed "pay or play" plan awaiting Governor Davis' signature, SB 2, employers with 20 or more employees must either provide health care benefits directly to workers or pay a fee for the worker to receive care from a state run health insurance purchasing pool. The bill's implementation date has been delayed until 2006 for large employers, 2007 for medium employers, and employers with 20-49 employees will not be required to participate unless a 20% tax credit is adopted first.
The new researched found that the median cost for participating businesses under SB 2 will represent only a .2% increase in overall operating costs, or about $1,343 per newly insured worker. The total cost of the newly insured would be $1.3 billion based on the predicted 1 million workers that SB 2 would effect, not the $5.7 billion price tag claimed by the state Chamber of Commerce. Though the Chamber of Commerce's estimate includes the cost of coverage to eligible dependents, the $5.7 billion figure "appears to be grossly overstated" according to the consumer advocacy group the Foundation for the Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR). The ILE study is available at: http://www.iir.berkeley.edu/research/ces.pdf
FTCR has urged Governor Davis to sign SB 2 and to pledge to support a 3-point cost control plan for the future: 1) HMO and health insurer premium regulation; 2) Price controls on doctors and hospitals; 3) Universal access and bulk purchasing.
The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights is a national non-profit and non-partisan consumer advocacy organization. For more information visit us on the web at www.calhealthconsensus.org and www.consumerwatchdog.org
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