A coalition of California healthcare providers is working to place on the Nov. 4 ballot a measure that would raise 911 phone surcharges to improve emergency care throughout the state. Californians now pay a surcharge of less than 1% of their phone bills to maintain the state's 911 emergency phone system. The Coalition to Preserve Emergency Care would increase the surcharge to 3.72% of all phone calls made within California and amend the state constitution to ensure the new money is used to fund emergency rooms, trauma centers and emergency physicians. Residential customers' surcharges would be capped at 50 cents per month, and those who receive reduced-fee phone services would be exempt. There would be no cap on cell phone or commercial phone bills. The coalition includes the California Medical Association, the California Healthcare Association and other community-care and emergency personnel associations. The coalition said it has gathered more than the 598,105 signatures required by state law for a constitutional amendment but intends to continue collecting signatures to ensure the measure's placement on the November ballot. -- by Laura B. Benko
Calif. group seeks higher 911 tax to fund ERs
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