SAN FRANCISCO UNVEILS UNIVERSAL HEALTH CARE PLAN
June 22, 2006
San Francisco would offer health care to any adult resident, regardless of immigration or employment status, under a plan announced this week.
The plan, which still needs be approved by the city's Board of Supervisors, is aimed at 82,000 uninsured residents who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid, said Mayor Gavin Newsom. The city already provides universal health care for children.
- Newsom stressed that the so-called Health Access Plan was not meant to take the place of private health insurance, but rather provide a way to consistently treat people without insurance so they don't end up seeking medical care in hospital emergency rooms.
- Unlike health insurance, for example, the city's plan would not cover the cost of any medical services its participants seek outside San Francisco, and it would not be open to people who work, but do not live, in the city.
- It would provide comprehensive preventive and catastrophic health care, covering everything from checkups, prescription drugs and X-rays to ambulance rides, blood tests and surgeries.
- The city estimates the plan would cost $200 million a year, an expense that would be borne by taxpayers, businesses that don't already insure all their workers, and participants themselves.
- Residents would pay both monthly fees and service co-payments on a sliding scale depending on income. A person with annual earnings at the federal poverty line would pay $3 per month, while someone who makes between $19,600 and $40,000 - or up to 400 percent above the poverty line - would pay an average of $35 per month.
Laurie Thomas, owner of three restaurants in San Francisco, said that she already contributes to health insurance for her employees who work more than 28 hours a week, but that the hourly mandate Ammiano is proposing would put her out of business.
Source: Lisa Leff, "S.F. Unveils Universal Health Care Plan," Associated Press/Las Vegas Sun, June 20, 2006.
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