California Pay or Play LawFebruary, 2004
To: Members and Supporters of the California chapter of AAPS
As part of his last desperate attempt to hold on to the governor's office, Grey Davis encouraged the Legislature to enact several dreadful laws. He then signed them in the last days before the end of his disastrous term.
One of the worst of these laws was Senate Bill 2, better known as "Pay or Play." This law goes into effect in 2006 unless it is repealed. Opponents have gathered sufficient signatures to put the repeal of SB2 by referendum on the November ballot, but like motherhood and apple pie, health insurance for all using other people's money may sound good to enough voters to make its repeal challenging.
Simply stated, the law forces almost all California employers to buy health insurance for every one of their employees or pay into a state fund that will provide such insurance. In the case of large employers with more than 200 employees, the employer must also buy the insurance for all of the employee's dependents. No other state has such a law.
Already employers are leaving California because of this law. Already companies that planned to locate here have abandoned their plans because of this law. Moreover, the law will force remaining employers to buy the worst kind of HMO managed-care health plans. It will thus prevent patient-controlled, market-based systems like Health Savings Account PPOs from growing, as they must if doctors and patients are to take back control of medicine.
The new governor strongly opposed SB2 and now supports its repeal. The Chamber of Commerce strongly opposed SB2 and now supports its repeal. Most employers opposed SB2 and continue to work for its repeal. Since its passage the two largest county medical associations in California, Los Angeles and San Diego, have voted to work towards the repeal of SB2.
As far as I can tell most doctors opposed SB2, but your California Medical Association not only supported the bill, it sponsored it. Without CMA sponsorship SB2 would never have passed. However, there is a resolution before the California Medical Association's March 2004 House of Delegates to reverse the CMA's position on SB2. If CMA changes its position from "support and sponsor" to "oppose and repeal," it will go a long way toward defeating this job-killing, anti-physician, anti-patient law. Your help is needed.
Contact the officers of your local county medical association and its delegates to the CMA House. Tell them to champion the repeal of SB2. Write letters to the President of the CMA, Dr. Ron Bangasser, at CMA headquarters in Sacramento (1201 J St., Sacramento CA 95814, tel. (916) 444-5532) demanding he reverse his and the Board of Trustees positions on SB2. See www.cmanet.org for emailing instructions.
Interestingly, Dr. Bangasser also sits on the Board of Directors of Blue Shield and was its Vice Chair last year. Blue Shield was one of the strongest and most vocal supporters of SB2 and stands to gain greatly from it.
You have only a few weeks to act. Pick up your telephone, pick up your pen and do so now.
Thomas W. LaGrelius MD, FAAFP
Enclosure: Proposed CMA House Resolution