California on the sidelines

John Taylor: October 26, 20070 Comments

California won't be making headlines when elections occur Nov. 6. Nothing is occurring statewide, so the spotlight moves to six other states where voters will be deliberating some hot-button issues. Of course, that means health care.

In Oregon, voters will be asked to hike cigarette taxes by 85 cents a pack to pay for children's health coverage. USA Today says Big Tobacco has plowed $10 million to defeat the initiative; similar investments proved successful in California in 2006 when voters rejected a $2.60 hike to benefit, among others, trauma centers like the one operated by Fresno's Community Medical Centers.

In Texas, voters will be asked to permit $3 billion in borrowing over 10 years to pay for cancer research, with bike racer Lance Armstrong a big proponent. And USA Today notes that in New Jersey, voters will decide whether the state can borrow $450 million to finance stem cell research.

California, the "mother of all initiatives state," should be back in the equation in 2008, assuming Gov. Schwarzenegger and legislators agree on language for a health care overhaul -- an overhaul contingent on voters deciding how to pay for it.

File this under "do you see a connection?": The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports that 63% of Americans are paying more for health care this year than in 2006. And the Nashville Tennessean says that Level 1 trauma patients are sometimes needlessly spending more than a month in trauma beds because of a lack of rehab hospital space for those with brain and spinal cord injuries -- costing taxpayers and insurance companies multi-millions and depriving patients of the opportunity for grabbing some kind of normalcy.