PROPOSITION 3 ON the Nov. 4 ballot asks Californians to approve a bond measure of $980 million to fund the construction, expansion, remodeling, renovation, furnishing and equipping of the state's children's hospitals.

With the economic downturn and large state deficit, voters may be reluctant to support such a measure. That is understandable, but they should make an exception for Prop. 3.

Children with life-threatening diseases need better facilities now, regardless of the health of the economy. For thousands of children throughout the state, children's hospitals are their only hope for a cure or a longer life.

Children's hospitals have a high percentage of patients from low-income families who would not be able to get the kind of concentrated care elsewhere.

Also, most of the children in these hospitals have serious, often life-threatening illnesses that require intense care with a higher ratio of nurses than do most other hospitals.

Hospitals and physicians from all over the state refer young patients to children's hospitals for specialized treatment that is not readily available at other facilities.

Children's hospitals provide 88 percent of the in-patient care for children who need heart surgery. They handle 97 percent of all surgery for children who need organ transplants and 71 percent of the in-patient care for children with cancer.


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The kind of care these children need is labor-intensive and expensive, but they are accepted and treated regardless of a family's ability to pay. Many of these families simply cannot pay the enormous costs.

Children's hospitals save hundreds of lives every day and cure many more. Because of care offered at these hospitals, 90 percent of the children born with heart defects are cured or substantially helped. The survival rate of children with leukemia is 80 percent.

Major pediatric research is also taking place at children's hospitals. Funds from Prop. 3 will allow hospitals to buy the latest technology, equipment and supplies to make more medical advances.

Unlike most other hospitals, children's hospitals do not have the kind of patient base that allows income from some patients to make up for losses resulting from treating others. That is why Prop. 3 is so important.

We can think of no better investment by Californians than to continue to provide the very best medical care for seriously ill children who otherwise might not have any hope for a better life or even for survival.

In this election, this paper is taking a frugal position in opposing new spending initiatives and a huge rail bond. But we firmly believe that Prop. 3 should be an exception and we urge voters to support it on Nov. 4.