San Francisco Begins Outreach for Health Care Access Program
San Francisco on July 1 will begin to partially roll out a program designed to provide access to health care services for all city residents, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
San Francisco officials will begin enrollment next week at two public health centers in Chinatown.
Mitch Katz, director of public health for San Francisco, said the clinics were chosen because city officials wanted to ensure that personnel could address language and cultural barriers before launching enrollment citywide.
The San Francisco Public Health Department has mailed information to users of the clinics and laid out plans for how clinic visitors will be enrolled in the plans.
Full enrollment is scheduled to begin in January (Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28).
Healthy San Francisco, formerly the Health Access Program, is expected to cost about $200 million annually. The city will contribute $104 million that it already spends on medical care for the uninsured. Premiums from plan members are expected to generate $56 million.
The program also would rely on mandatory contributions from businesses. That provision prompted the city's Golden Gate Restaurant Association to file a lawsuit against the city, claiming the employer mandate violates federal law (California Healthline, 6/26). A hearing is scheduled for Aug. 31.
City officials say the employer contributions are needed for the program to succeed.
Kevin Westlye, executive director of the association, said the group is proposing a quarter-cent sales tax increase as an alternative, which he said would add $40 million annually to the program (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28).