San Francisco Department of Public Health To Unveil Budget Proposal Containing Job Cuts, Prescription Drug Copayments
Dr. Mitch Katz, chief of San Francisco's Department of Public Health, on Tuesday is expected to release to the city's Health Commission a budget proposal that calls for job cuts at the department and replaces free prescription drugs with copayments for low-income residents, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The proposal is designed to help close a more than $300 million city budget deficit. The public health department's budget accounts for $1 billion of the city's total $4.8 billion budget. Under the proposal, 130 department positions would be eliminated, 43 of which are currently vacant. Layoffs would largely be made in administrative areas, but four social worker positions in the hospital psychiatric units also would be eliminated. In addition, the proposal would institute copays of $5 per generic drug prescription and $10 per brand-name drug prescription for people who currently qualify for free medications but have annual incomes higher than 100% of the federal poverty level, or $9,310 for an individual and $18,850 for a family of four. Katz also is preparing $37 million in contingency cuts, which could be similar to service cuts proposed last year that failed to gain approval, including plans to reduce adult dental, substance abuse and HIV/AIDS services. A proposal for contingency cuts will be announced in April, Katz said, adding, "The big fights are going to be over the contingency cuts" (Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/16).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.