Health Access Plan Could Boost Newsom Career
Health insurance industry experts say San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's (D) universal health care access plan "has the potential to become a model across the country," and it "also carries a big political payoff for Newsom," the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Allday/Vega, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2).
Newsom's plan would expand health care access to the city's 82,000 uninsured residents at a cost of about $200 million annually. According to the plan, the city would contribute $104 million, businesses would voluntarily contribute $38 million and the remainder would come from member premiums and other sources (California Healthline, 6/29).
"[F]undamental questions" remain about funding sources for the program, the health needs of the city's uninsured population and whether the San Francisco Health Plan, which would administer the program, can absorb thousands of new members, the Chronicle reports.
Jean Fraser, CEO of the San Francisco Health Plan, said the plan's 80-member staff likely would need to be expanded and the plan would need to develop detailed programs for a population whose health needs remain unclear.
In addition, Crystal Hayling, president and CEO of the Blue Shield of California Foundation and a member of a task force studying the issue, said the San Francisco Health Plan likely would need to significantly expand its 400-member physician network to accommodate the influx of new members.
According to the Chronicle, Newsom "could claim a major policy accomplishment that has the potential to resonate with voters far and wide" if the plan is enacted (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/2).
Members of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce "are fearful" that Supervisor Tom Ammiano's proposed ordinance mandating business contributions to health care coverage "will not only hurt our most vulnerable small businesses but will jeopardize the success of the health care access plan by limiting those who can be enrolled," Steve Falk, president and CEO of the Chamber of Commerce, writes in a Chronicle opinion piece. Ammiano's ordinance would require businesses to contribute up to $3,200 annually per worker for health care coverage, according to Falk.
Supervisors "should pass" Newsom's health access plan and "begin the implementation plan, but it should send ... Ammiano's mandate legislation back to the drawing board," Falk writes (Falk, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/3).