Advisory Council Recommends Continuing Healthy S.F. Program
The Universal Healthcare Council has recommended that the Healthy San Francisco program continue, despite concerns that the program's requirements could conflict with the Affordable Care Act and that its costs could be detrimental to businesses, the San Francisco Business Times' "Bay Area BizTalk" reports.
The council is made up of 41 business, government, health care and labor representatives (Rauber, "Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 1/6).
Background on Healthy San Francisco
The city launched Healthy San Francisco in 2007 to provide health insurance coverage to adult residents who earn too much to qualify for Medi-Cal but not enough to purchase private insurance. Medi-Cal is California's Medicaid program.
Healthy San Francisco receives funding from the city, the federal government, patient contributions and fees imposed on San Francisco businesses that do not provide health coverage for their workers. The program receives no funding from the state.
Over the past five years, Healthy San Francisco has evolved from its origins as a safety-net insurance option to a program that covers about 85% of San Francisco's uninsured residents (California Healthline, 1/3).
Details of Recommendations
The council recommended that the city's Health Care Security Ordinance -- which funds San Francisco health reform programs -- "should continue to exist in its current form," according to Mayor Ed Lee's (D) office.
The city's Deputy Health Director Colleen Chawla noted that about 30,000 of the 60,000 individuals currently enrolled in Healthy San Francisco are expected to obtain coverage under the ACA. That would leave about 30,000 individuals without health coverage if the Healthy San Francisco program ends.
In addition, undocumented immigrants are not eligible for Medi-Cal or the state health insurance exchange, according to "Bay Area BizTalk."
Following the recommendations, Lee directed the city's Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to begin updating health regulation compliance rules.
Concerns About Continuing the Program
Meanwhile, concerns about the possibility of Healthy San Francisco conflicting with requirements or penalties under the ACA have been raised by several business groups, including:
- The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce; and
- The Golden Gate Restaurant Association ("Bay Area BizTalk," San Francisco Business Times, 1/6).