Newsom Unveils Universal Health Access Plan
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) on Tuesday announced a plan to extend access to comprehensive health services to San Francisco's 82,000 uninsured residents, the Los Angeles Times reports (Romney, Los Angeles Times, 6/21).
The San Francisco Health Access Plan would not provide health insurance, but would provide members with preventive and catastrophic health coverage for a range of services, including checkups, prescription drugs, X-rays, blood tests and surgeries (Leff, AP/San Francisco Examiner, 6/20).
Individuals who earn $50,000 annually would pay premiums of $201.25 per month for coverage, and those who earn between $19,600 and $40,000 annually would pay $35 per month, Newsom said.
Under the plan, enrollees would have access to care only in San Francisco, and all adult residents -- regardless of health, employment or immigration status -- would be eligible for the plan. The San Francisco Health Plan would administer the program (Vega, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/21).
The program would cost an estimated $200 million per year, according to a draft report. The city would contribute $104 million annually by redirecting money already spent on services for the uninsured (Marshall, New York Times, 6/21).
Newsom has proposed a voluntary program for businesses to contribute to the plan. Newsom estimates businesses would contribute about $30 million to enroll workers in the plan. The rest of the funding would come from premium payments and other sources (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/21).
Meanwhile, San Francisco Supervisor Tom Ammiano -- who earlier this year proposed an employer health insurance mandate -- has introduced legislation to require businesses to contribute to the plan (Los Angeles Times, 6/21)
According to the Chronicle, Ammiano's proposal would require businesses with 20 or more employees to contribute $1.60 per hour worked by an employee to a health savings account that would be used to provide care for the uninsured, and businesses with fewer than 20 employees would be required to contribute $1.06 per hour worked. The "measure could be merged with the mayor's plan," the Chronicle reports (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/21).
The San Jose Mercury News reports that the legislative package would require employers with more than 100 workers to contribute $1.60 for each hour worked by a nonmanagement employee and firms with 20 to 100 employees to contribute $1.06 hourly per employee.
Business groups oppose the hourly contribution proposal. Jim Lazarus, a representative of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said business leaders had suggested a plan for fees on businesses that would have raised $50 million.
A Board of Supervisors committee hearing on Ammiano's proposal is schedule for Wednesday, and supervisors will vote on the entire proposal at the board's June 27 meeting (Ostrom, San Jose Mercury News, 6/21).