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  YES on Proposition 72 Press Conference-10/4/04
 

A law requiring large and mid-size companies to provide employee health insurance or pay a fee to the state to do so was signed in October of 2003. A year later, the law has not been implemented. Instead, we have Proposition 72, a referendum vote on the law, on our November 2004 ballot.

Who's trying to overturn the health care law and what is their motive?

In California, citizens can place a referendum on the ballot enabling voters to approve or reject statutes signed into law. It's expensive, but a consortium of large businesses preferred to pay the money to try to eliminate the law rather than pay health insurance to their employees. A short list of the referendum's sponsors are: California Restaurant Association, McDonalds, Macy's, Nordstrum's, Office Depot, Sears-Roebuck and Target. These companies claim the law will drive business out of California, but does anyone really think they will be leaving our state?

To protect the law and ensure the protection and expansion of health care access in California, supporters of "Yes on Prop 72" held a press conference on October 4th, 2004, at the State Treasury building. Anthony Wright (left of Phil Angelides in photo) of Health Access served as moderator for the event.


 
 

"The passage of Proposition 72 is important not just in California -- It sends a signal all across the country that we are truly dedicated in California and in America to the idea of affordable health care for all our families. It's not right that in the wealthiest society in human history, one in five Californians doesn't have health care.It's a matter of fairness, a matter of equity, and a matter of what's right for California!" --Phil Angelides, State Treasurer

The matter of equity and fairness was further elaborated by Phil in response to a question about the cost of health care to the taxpayer for the uninsured. Most employers offer health insurance to their employees, but the employers who don't provide insurance take unfair advantage of their more ethical competition by passing the cost on to the taxpayer, to the tune of 4.6 billion dollars annually. When the employees of large, profitable corporations like Wal-Mart don't have health insurance, they must go for health care to county clinics and emergency rooms, paid for by the taxpayer. Why should the people of California shoulder a cost which enables large corporations to reap even greater profits at the expense of their employees?

 


 
 

"Under the provisions of Proposition 72, if you have health insurance you'll keep it, if you work for one of the companies that doesn't provide health insurance, you'll get it, and if you're paying for health care and paying taxes, you're paying double and with passage of Proposition 72, you'll get relief!" --Assemblymember Dario Frommer

Outrage was expressed by Frommer and other speakers at the attack ads being aired by opponents of Proposition 72. One ad suggests that family restaurants will be driven out of business, or forced to fire workers and raise prices if they have to meet Prop 72 standards.

State Employment Development Department figures indicate that 93% of California restaurants have fewer than 50 employees, and thus would not be affected by the law. For the law to affect smaller employers (20-49), the Legislature would be required to pass a tax credit to help small businesses offset the cost of buying insurance. Businesses of less than 20 would be exempt under this law.



 
 

SEIU Local 1000 members Ed Perez, SEIU Local 1000 Vice President Marc Bautista, and Larry Perkins supporting "Yes on Prop 72."

Union members have fought hard to get and keep health benefits in their contracts. Ethical companies that provide health insurance are at a disadvantage when they compete with huge corporations like Wal-Mart that keep prices down by providing minimal benefits to a limited number of employees. Proposition 72 would require big employers like Wal-Mart to provide health care or pay into a state fund that will provide it. And yes, Wal-Mart is non-union and one of the big sponsors of the "No on 72" campaign....


 
 

Dr. Michael Sexton, ER physician and President Elect of the California Medical Association, provided the medical community's perspective on Proposition 72:

"In contrast to the "No on 72" attack ads featuring an actress portraying a restaurant owner, I am a real, live doctor, not an actor, and I'm here representing doctors throughout the state of California who stand in strong support of Proposition 72. As an ER physician, I see the terrible toll taken on working people and their families when they don't have health care insurance. That is why doctors support Proposition 72 -- We want to protect the health of Californians!"

Dr. Sexton described another positive feature of Prop 72: "Proposition 72 sets standards for health care like the minimum wage sets standards for pay. Employer-paid health care must include the essential elements to good health care: preventive care, major medical, and prescription drug coverage."

Donna Gerber, R.N, of the California Nurses Association, anounced the strong support of the 300,000 registered nurses in the CNA, the California Nursing Alliance, and the United Nurses Association of California. "Nurses and other health care providers every day, on the frontlines of hospitals and clinics, see the result of families who don't have health insurance. We see the suffering of people whose illnesses could've been prevented if they'd had access to timely health care. We strongly support Proposition 72!"


 
  Chris Bender, of SEIU Local 1000 in strong support of Prop 72.

 
 

Sondra Allinice of SEIU Local 1000 and Ellen Dillinger of SEIU Local 250, the health care worker's union.

Proposition 72 sets a cap on the premium contribution for employer-paid health care plans of 80/20-- employers are required to pay at least 80% of health care costs.

Some employers already pay 100% of employee health care premiums. The SEIU Local 250 contract with Catholic Healthcare West provides health care at 100% of premium costs for employees and their dependents. This didn't happen by accident-- union members fought hard to achieve it.

SEIU 1000, SEIU Local 250, and the Sacramento Central Labor Council join other unions in strongly supporting Proposition 72, expanding health care access and leveling the playing field for ethical employers.

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