Experts Praise San Francisco Health Access Plan
Health experts say the San Francisco Health Access Plan is an "innovative local attempt to address a growing national crisis," as an estimated 46 million people nationwide are uninsured, the Los Angeles Times reports (Lin, Los Angeles Times, 7/20).
The plan would offer health care access to uninsured residents at a cost of about $200 million annually. According to the plan, the city would contribute $104 million currently allocated to treat the uninsured, employers would contribute about $28 million through a mandate Supervisor Tom Ammiano proposed, and member premiums and other sources would provide about $56 million (California Healthline, 7/19).
San Francisco supervisors tentatively approved the plan on Tuesday, and Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) is expected to sign the ordinance if supervisors grant final approval next week. The first phase of the plan would take effect July 1, 2007, if it is approved.
Jennifer Petrucione, a spokesperson for Newsom who worked on the legislation with Ammiano, said the goal of the plan "is to provide an actual system whereby people have everything from primary care to pharmaceuticals, including access to specialty care, if needed, for all uninsured San Franciscans."
By expanding access to health care, rather than creating an insurance program, the city can continue receiving funds from state and federal programs, including Medicare. However, the structure of the plan would not cover services residents receive outside of the city.
Kevin Grumbach, a University of California-San Francisco professor and chair of the department of family and community medicine, said of the proposal, "It is possible to achieve universal healthcare. If it doesn't start nationally, it'll have to start city by city" (Los Angeles Times, 7/20).
KPCC's "Air Talk" on Wednesday included a discussion of San Francisco's health access plan. The segment includes comments from Steve Falk, president and CEO of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, and Newsom (Mantle, "AirTalk," KPCC, 7/18).
The complete segment is available online in Real Player.