Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Yes on 86

California Proposition 86: Tax on Cigarettes. (Initiative Constitutional Amendment and Statute)

Prop 86 would add $0.13 per cigarette ($2.60 per pack) to the existing excise tax on tobacco, with equivalent taxes on other forms of tobacco. The revenue goes to pay for hospital emergency rooms, non-profit community clinics, stop-smoking programs, health insurance for children, research on tobacco and cancer, and a variety of other programs.

Read more...Prop 86 is endorsed by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, nurses, emergency-room doctors, and other healthcare experts. The opposition is mostly funded by R.J. Reynolds and Philip Morris — two large tobacco companies whose executives testified before Congress that they were absolutely convinced, despite decades of solid evidence, that tobacco is not addictive.

The opponents are making a big stink about one particular provision: "Section 9 gives hospitals an exemption to antitrust laws." Section 9 creates Chapter 4.5 of Division 2.5 of the Health and Safety Code, including new HSC Section 1797.303(b): "It is the policy of the state to encourage hospitals to work cooperatively to develop regional plans for assuring maximum availability of emergency services to all patients, and to share equitably in the provision of emergency services to uninsured and low-income underinsured patients in achieving such maximum availability of emergency services." It goes on to say that, to the extent that any hospitals work cooperatively in developing and implementing the plans for providing emergency services, they will be exempt from antitrust rules. That's a far cry from the blank check that the opponents would like you to believe. Likewise, the opponents' claim that "There's nothing in Prop. 86 that limits what hospitals can charge taxpayers for emergency services for the uninsured" is contradicted by the text of the law.

The Yes on 86 TV ads are very simple and to-the-point: 86 is sponsored by the American Cancer Society, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, and the California Hospital Association; it is opposed by big tobacco. Whom do you trust? Vote yes on 86.

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