San Francisco Health Department Slated for Major Hit in City Budget
On Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) proposed $17 million in cuts to public health efforts as part of a plan to address a city budget deficit that could hit $125 million for the current fiscal year, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
Earlier this year, Newsom asked the city Department of Public Health to propose $26.7 million in cuts, significantly more than any other San Francisco agency, according to the Chronicle.Â DPH is San Francisco's largest agency.
Department leaders identified only $17.7 million in savings strategies, including:
- Eliminating some nurse positions in jails;
- Ending an adult day health care center for elderly people at Laguna Honda Hospital;
- Terminating a program that assigns social workers to homeless people and other San Francisco residents who frequently seek treatment at San Francisco General Hospital; and
- Cutting $5.3 million in funding for mental health services.
Newsom accepted the proposals.Â He rejected suggestions to cut nursing services for homebound patients, and he reduced funding for HIV/AIDS prevention and substance abuse programs by less than DPH leaders had proposed.
According to Newsom's office, DPH increased revenue by $12.3 million and will cut about $8.5 million in services.
To scale back cuts to DPH, San Francisco Supervisor Aaron Peskin has proposed $8.5 million in cuts to other departments.Â Peskin is advocating:
- A $3.9 million cut to the fire department budget;
- Cutting city funding for the San Francisco Opera, Ballet and Symphony by 50%, or about $1.1 million; and
- Eliminating various staff positions in city government.
Across all city agencies, Newsom's proposal aims for $118 million in savings, with roughly 40% coming from revenue increases such as increased patient volumes at San Francisco General. The mayor has outlined $71 million in cuts (Allday et al., San Francisco Chronicle, 12/10).
Sizing up Newsom's budget proposals and recent state of the city address, a Chronicle editorial writes that the mayor "faces tough challenges in reaching his goals."
For example, the editorial characterizes Healthy San Francisco, a program aimed at providing access to health care for all city residents, as Newsom's "signature feat."Â The mayor aims to enroll all eligible city residents by the end of 2008, something the Chronicle says would be "an impressive achievement" given proposed cuts to the Department of Public Health (San Francisco Chronicle, 12/10).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.