SAN FRANCISCO: Tough Road Ahead For Purchasing Pool
This month's Business & Health takes a look at developments surrounding San Francisco's "revolutionary strategy" to create a huge, 130,000-person purchasing pool to provide universal health coverage for the city's residents. While voters passed a ballot initiative in November that recommends the city pursue this goal, organizers are now collaborating "with the Chamber of Commerce to hire a consultant to devise a budget." The panel commissioned by Mayor Willie Brown (D) to work on the project outlined a benefits package -- including preventive care, acute care, prescription drugs, children's vision care, physical therapy, home care, 60 days of skilled nursing care and limited behavioral care -- that they estimated would cost $230 million to extend coverage to all uninsured San Franciscans. Some of that money would come from the city's $90 million budget for indigent care, but Sandra Hernandez, head of the panel, "believes the election of Governor-elect Gray Davis (D) will generate more state money for that purpose." Nevertheless, a majority of the $230 million would still have to come from "private sources," and many businesses have expressed "uncertainty" about buying into the pool (Moskowitz, 12/98 issue).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.