Friday, January 10, 2014

Reauthorization for Critical Health-Care Funding Measure May Not Come Until 2016

By Steven Tavares
Fri, Jan 10, 2014 at 3:22 PM

Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan said this week that the county may not ask voters to reauthorize a critical funding measure for the county’s health-care system until 2016. Measure A, the massive and largely successful health care tax passed by voters in 2004, has helped shore up funding for the county’s hospitals and related health care providers that serve mostly low-income residents. The half-cent sales generates more than $100 million annually funding. However, the measure is due to expire in 2019.

Wilma Chan
  • Wilma Chan
Alameda County Board President Nate Miley assembled a blue-ribbon task force last year to study whether the reauthorization of Measure A should be put to voters as early as 2014. At a meeting in Alameda Wednesday night discussing the war on poverty in the county, Chan said the board of supervisors will begin discussing the matter later this month. However, she said it is her guess the reauthorization will more likely be placed on the 2016 ballot, at the earliest.

The reason? A countywide transportation measure is already likely for the November ballot. A crowded ballot featuring two tax-raising initiatives might dissuade some voters from approving one or both of them. A similar measure in November 2012 for countywide improvements to transportation infrastructure was narrowly defeated by only about seven hundred votes. The loss led Fremont Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski to ask the state legislature last year for a second one-time-only exemption to place another measure on the ballot in 2014.

Adding the Measure A reauthorization to the June 3 primary ballot is also a possibility, Chan said, but that only gives the county less than six months to prepare a campaign strategy. Three-fourths of the proceeds from Measure A fund operation of the recently renamed Alameda Health System, which includes Highland Hospital in Oakland, San Leandro Hospital, John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro and eventually Alameda Hospital.

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