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Moving Beyond Health Insurance Debate, San Francisco Strives for Universal Access

In a California Healthline Special Report, Tangerine Brigham — director of the Healthy San Francisco program — and Stephen Shortell — dean of the School of Public Health at UC-Berkeley — discussed San Francisco’s universal health access program.

Healthy San Francisco, which expanded citywide last month, aims to ensure universal access to health services for all uninsured city residents (Rebillot, California Healthline, 10/15).

Unlike other attempts at universal health care, Healthy San Francisco is not health insurance; the program only covers the cost of health care services within the city (California Healthline, 9/25).

The program is attracting national attention from other cities interested in improving access to health care services, but Brigham cautions that it’s too soon to assess whether Healthy San Francisco is a success.

“Now we will be entering a phase where we have to evaluate whether or not all these changes have actually resulted in improvement in people’s health care,” she said, adding, “And until we’re able to say that, I don’t think we can actually say that we have done this successfully yet” (California Healthline, 10/15).