San Francisco Officials Still See Need for Healthy San Francisco Program
On Monday, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) and Public Health Chief Mitch Katz said the city will continue its Healthy San Francisco universal health care program because national health reform legislation (HR 3590) does not go far enough, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
According to Newsom and Katz, the legislation approved by the House on Sunday would still leave thousands of city residents uninsured.
Newsom saidÂ the national health reform package will leave an estimated 20 million people uninsured, many of whom are undocumented immigrants living in metropolitan areas.
On Monday, Newsom appointed Katz to chair a working group of city officials, health care representatives and others to determine how federal health reform will affect Healthy San Francisco.
Healthy San Francisco was established in 2007 to cover uninsured adults who do not qualify for Medi-Cal, California's Medicaid program.
Eligibility for the program is not dependent on employment status, immigration status or pre-existing medical conditions.
Currently, 51,000 of the 60,000 uninsured San Francisco residents are enrolled in Healthy San Francisco.
How National Health Reform Will Affect Healthy San Francisco
Katz said that up to half of Healthy San Francisco participants might no longer need the program because of national health care reform provisions that:
- Allow young adults to stay on their parents' plans until age 26;
- Prohibit insurance companies from denying coverage because of pre-existing conditions;
- Grant tax credits to make it easier for individuals to buy coverage through a health insurance exchange; and
- Expand the eligibility for Medicaid from 100% of the federal poverty level to 133%.
Katz noted that many of the changes and expansions included in the legislation will not go into effect until 2014.
Meanwhile, it is unclear how national health care reform will affect the city's mandate on employers to provide health benefits, set up health care reimbursement spending accounts or pay into a city fund.
The national plan requires large employers to provide health insurance or pay a fine (Knight, San Francisco Chronicle, 3/23).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.