San Francisco Remains Focused on Expanding Health Access Program
San Francisco continues to move forward with its universal health care access program, despite ongoing negotiations in Sacramento for a statewide plan to expand health care coverage, according to the city's health department director, the San Francisco Examiner reports.
Mitch Katz, director of the San Francisco Department of Public Health, said, "My guess is that in the most wonderful scenario, [Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger (R) and legislators] won't achieve universal health care coverage." He added, "I expect at the end of the day, there will still be a role" for San Francisco's program (Eslinger, San Francisco Examiner, 9/25).
The program, called Healthy San Francisco, expanded citywide last week and aims to cover all 82,000 uninsured adult residents. However, unlike other proposed universal health care plans, Healthy San Francisco is not health insurance; the program only covers the cost of health care services within the city.
Participants will have access to 14 city health clinics and eight affiliated community clinics, with an emphasis on preventive care and chronic disease care.
The program has income requirements until its next expansion phase, beginning in November (California Healthline, 9/20).
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association filed suit against the city, claiming the program's mandatory employer contributions violate federal law.
A ruling is expected by November, but city officials contend that the $200 million Healthy San Francisco program will continue regardless of the outcome of the case. Businesses are slated to contribute $28 million under the program.
Katz said the mandate is intended to ensure that businesses already offering health care coverage do not drop coverage because of the program. He added that if the business contributions are deemed illegal, the city might limit the program to only low-income residents (San Francisco Examiner, 9/25).