Supervisors Approve Health Access Plan
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Tuesday voted unanimously to approve legislation that would provide health care access to the city's uninsured residents, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. To take effect, the board must vote to approve the legislation a second time next week, and Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) must sign it.
According to the Chronicle, both requirements are "considered virtual certainties" (Bowman, San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19).
The plan would offer health care access to uninsured residents at a cost of about $200 million annually. According to the plan, the city would contribute $104 million currently allocated to treat the uninsured.
Under a compromise reached last week, employers would contribute about $28 million through a mandate Supervisor Tom Ammiano proposed (California Healthline, 7/18). Firms with 20 to 99 workers would be required to pay $1.06 per hour worked per eligible employee, while firms with at least 100 workers would be required to pay $1.60 per hour worked per eligible employee (Leff, AP/Contra Costa Times, 7/19).
Companies that provide health coverage but spend less than the minimum level would be required to contribute (California Healthline, 7/18). Employers who provide health care benefits above the minimum level would be exempt from the measure (San Francisco Chronicle, 7/19).
Employees would have to work at least 12 hours weekly to qualify for the plan, which includes an opt-out provision for workers who receive health care coverage through a spouse (AP/Contra Costa Times, 7/19).
Member premiums and other sources would provide about $56 million toward the cost of the health plan (California Healthline, 7/18). Member premiums would be determined on a sliding scale (AP/Contra Costa Times, 7/19).
If approved, the plan will go into effect in three phases, with the first phase beginning July 1, 2007, when businesses with more than 50 employees must begin making payments (San Jose Mercury News, 7/19).
According to the Sacramento Bee, the measure would largely affect medium-sized businesses that do not currently offer health insurance benefits and residents who are unemployed or are not regularly employed (Sample, Sacramento Bee, 7/19).
Members of the health plan would have coverage for health care services only within San Francisco. Services would be available from clinics, public hospitals and health care providers participating in San Francisco's Medi-Cal HMO (AP/Contra Costa Times, 7/19).
The plan would not cover:
- Dental care;
- Fertility services;
- Elective cosmetic procedures; or
- Eye glasses.