California Healthline Daily Edition

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Insurance and Uninsured

In the New England Journal of Medicine, Mitchell Katz, director of health for the San Francisco Department of Public Health, argues that the city's new universal health care access program represents San Francisco's impatience "with the lack of progress at federal and state levels in reducing the number of uninsured Americans."

The initiative, called Healthy San Francisco, plans to assign all of the city's uninsured residents to a medical home and primary care provider to improve treatment outcomes and reduce the likelihood of costly emergency department visits. Eligibility for the program does not consider income, employment, immigration status or pre-existing medical conditions.

Recognizing the disadvantages of the program not offering actual health insurance coverage, Katz writes that "it is still too early to tell how successful the program will be; nevertheless, we hope it will inspire more energetic efforts at the state and federal levels" (Katz, New England Journal of Medicine, 1/24).

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