The fate of California's controversial mandatory health insurance law was placed back in voters' hands when a state appeals court allowed a referendum seeking to repeal the law to be placed on the November ballot. In a victory for business groups, the 1st District Court of Appeal in San Francisco ruled that the 620,000 voters who signed petitions supporting the referendum were not misled. Last month, a Sacramento Superior Court judge blocked the referendum after doctors and labor unions argued that the petitions misrepresented the law and failed to give voters enough information. At issue is a landmark law designed to extend health insurance to about 1 million of the state's 6.3 million uninsured by requiring businesses with 50 or more employees to buy coverage for workers or pay into a state insurance fund. A coalition of business groups led by the California Chamber of Commerce has fought to repeal the law, calling it a job killer and a $7 billion burden on employers. The coalition originally sought to get the referendum on the March 2 ballot. But the appeals court said that by the time it received all judicial documents for the case, the deadline to print ballots for March had passed. -- by Laura B. Benko
Calif. health insurance law to go back to voters
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