Reauthorization for Alameda County’s Measure A may not come until 2016

A large portion of Measure A tax dollars is
used to operate Oakland’s Highland Hospital.

ALAMEDA COUNTY | HEALTH CARE | Alameda County Supervisor Wilma Chan believes voters will not be asked to reauthorize a critical funding measure for the county’s health care system during this year’s election cycle.

Measure A, the massive and largely successful health care tax passed by voters in 2004, has gone far to shore up funding for the county’s hospitals and related health care providers. Over $100 million annually is raised through the half-cent sales tax. However, a sunset clause in the measure is due to expire in 2019.

A 31-member blue-ribbon task force was assembled last year by Alameda County Board President Nate Miley to study whether the reauthorization of Measure A should be put to voters as early as this year.

At a meeting in Alameda Wednesday night discussing the war on poverty in the county, Chan said the Board of Supervisors will begin discussion on the matter later this month. However, it is her guess the reauthorization, instead, 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 full of tax-raising initiatives might dissuade some voters from approving one or both of the potential measure. A similar measure in November 2012 for countywide improvements for transportation infrastructure was narrowly defeated by over 700 votes. The loss led Fremont Assemblymember Bob Wieckowski to ask the State Legislature for a second one-time-only exemption to place another measure on the ballot in 2014.

Placing the Measure A reauthorization on the June 3 primary ballot is also a possibility, but only gives the county already less than six months to prepare a campaign strategy. Alameda County officials may not want to be so sudden in their approach to such a crucial funding mechanism for the county’s poor and uninsured patients. Three-fourths of the proceeds from Measure A fund operation of the recently renamed Alameda Health System, which is comprised of Highland Hospital, San Leandro Hospital, John George Psychiatric Pavilion in San Leandro and eventually Alameda Hospital.

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