A coalition that includes some physician and nurses groups said last week it has obtained enough signatures to put an initiative calling for a Canadian-style, single-payer health plan for California residents on the November ballot.
The plan would extend medical benefits to the 6 million Californians now uninsured, proponents said.
Under the plan, Californians would receive a comprehensive package of health benefits. The state also would negotiate physicians' fees and hospital rates.
The petition drive was organized by Californians for Health Security, the coalition formed by interest groups representing the California Nurses Association, the California Physicians Alliance, California Council of Churches, the Gray Panthers senior-citizens' group, the California Teachers Association and labor unions and consumer organizations.
State authorities will take about a month to verify the measure has enough signatures to qualify for the Nov. 8 ballot.
A single-payer plan for California would cost about $105 billion a year when fully implemented in 1996, the coalition said. It also would eliminate Medicaid and Medicare, and push the private insurance industry out of the state.
The California Association of Hospitals and Health Systems voted last week to oppose the single-payer initiative. "This initiative would be a disaster for the public, patients and healthcare delivery in California," said C. Duane Dauner, CAHHS' president and chief executive officer. "It would create a new bureaucracy with more governmental control and red tape than Canada's system."
To finance the proposed plan, California employers would be required to pay a 4.4% to 8.9% payroll tax, depending on the number of employees covered. The plan also would add a $1-a-pack cigarette tax.