San Francisco May Eliminate Health Care Programs for Seniors, Residents with Mental Illness
San Francisco Department of Public Health Director Dr. Mitch Katz on Friday announced a proposal to eliminate $37.5 million from the department budget in fiscal year 2003-2004 to help address the city's estimated $350 million budget deficit, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. Most of the proposed budget reductions target not-for-profit, community agencies that provide outpatient services for residents with mental illness and substance abuse problems, seniors and the homeless. The proposal, for example, would close a locked-down psychiatric facility and eliminate adult dental services and free prescription drugs for some families. In addition, the proposal would eliminate funds for an AIDS hotline and support groups for residents with HIV/AIDS. The proposal also could include an additional $28 million in budget reductions, "if necessary," the Chronicle reports. Katz said, "These cuts are painful, and they're occurring in areas where there are currently unmet needs." He added that the proposal will "eliminate valuable services and in some cases threaten the viability of entire agencies." Mayor Willie Brown (D) said, "The reality is that we are short, short, short on resources. The reality is that we're going to have to make some hard choices." Some community agencies that operate health care programs that the proposal would eliminate "are gearing up for the fight," the Chronicle reports. Charles Collins, executive director of Family Services Agency of San Francisco, said, "This is going to have a substantial impact on geriatric programs." The San Francisco Health Commission, the mayor and the city Board of Supervisors must approve the proposal. The commission will hold a public hearing on the proposal on Wednesday (Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, 2/1).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.