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Personal and Economic Health at Stake

November 06, 1994

The question is not "Proposition 186: Should California Be a Guinea Pig?" (Times editorial, Oct. 9) but "Proposition 186: Should California Lead?" With the defeat of the national health plan, the United States and South Africa remain the only two industrialized nations in the world without national health programs.

The editorial, citing favorably "Canada's well-tested single payer insurance system," attributes its success to the fact that all of the state (provincial) governments participate in the Canadian plan.

It did not begin that way. The successful Canadian plan originated in the province of Saskatchewan and spread across the country.

Is this not a good example for California? Nor was the fact noted that the states of Washington, Oregon, Alaska and Hawaii have initiated statewide health plans. Nor was an evaluation made of their provisions and performance.

If we regard health care as a social good rather than a commodity, as other Western countries do, we could devise a more rational system for delivering it. And Proposition 186 is a first step.

The Alliance for the Mentally Ill of Orange County board of directors voted to join more than 500 other organizations in California that are supporting Proposition 186 because it will provide access to health care for all Californians, full mental health benefits, full long-term care benefits, prescription drug coverage, some dental benefits and free choice of any doctor.

FLORENCE E. FITZGERALD

Chair, Public Policy Committee

Alliance for the Mentally Ill

of Orange County

* November's election will bring before the voters of California one of the most expensive propositions ever to come before the people of our state. The issue is Proposition 186, the "Single-Payer Initiative," also known as the "California Health Security Act."

It is anything but "health security," and it would be expensive for every citizen in California. The proposition would require most Californians to give up their private health coverage and instead get health care coverage through a massive new state bureaucracy. It is estimated by the nonpartisan State Legislative Analyst that the proposal would increase taxes more than $40 billion annually, nearly doubling the present state budget.

To finance this plan, a personal income tax surcharge of 2.5% to 5% would be levied on taxpayers (depending on income). Additionally, employers would be taxed a payroll tax from 4.4% to 8.9% of total payroll (depending on the number of employees--roughly $50,400 for an employer with 30 employees and a monthly payroll of $60,000), undoubtedly driving more employers and more jobs from the state.

Spectrum Economics, a private consulting firm, has estimated that the measure will cost almost 300,000 jobs by the time it is fully implemented. A $1-per-pack cigarette tax also would be imposed to help pay for the proposal.

From the business perspective alone, the payroll tax on business and the subsequent loss of jobs and economic development would be a disastrous setback to efforts that have been made to strengthen the state's business climate.

Vote "No" on Proposition 186, the "Single-Payer Initiative." Your job may be at stake this time.

KEN MOORE

President & CEO

Orange County

Chamber of Commerce & Industry

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