Tuesday, September 18, 2007

One American city leads the way

"San Francisco to Offer Care For Every Uninsured Adult"

That was the eye-catching headline of Kevin Sack's report printed in the upper left corner on the front page of last Friday's edition of The New York Times (A1, 17).

The City of San Francisco now offers "Healthy San Francisco" to all 82,000 adults who have no insurance. After a two-month pilot period focusing on two community clinics in the Chinatown area, the initiative rolled out to every part of the city yesterday.

The program to provide health care coverage to all uninsured adults in San Francisco is paid for mostly by the city itself.

The rationale back of this bold move on the part of city leaders? Officials believe that the city can provide "universal and sensibly managed care to the uninsured for about the amount being spent on their treatment now, often in emergency rooms."

Sack's report documents the unique nature of San Francisco as a community, including its political atmosphere, compact geography, unified city-county government structure, and a network of public and community clinics, as factors contributing to the innovative and aggressive public policy benefiting the city's uninsured. Until November, enrollment of patients in the plan will be limited to those with incomes below the federal poverty level. After this initial period of enrollment, the program will be open to any uninsured adult living in the city. The goal is to sign up 45,000 during the first year. The city will test the capacity of its medical infrastructure as it expands the enrollment.

By forging stronger connections between public and community-based, non-profit clinics, the city hopes to create a strong system of managed care for the uninsured. The goal is to turn the readily accessible clinics into medical homes for the uninsured.

What a bold move by a great city!

Possibly San Francisco will discover the secrets to making available universal health care coverage to all Americans. One thing seems clear at this point: this city cares about all of its people and it is taking a reasonable approach to solving pressing "bottom line" problems at the same time.

Sounds like a win-win to me.


Anonymous said...

I hear that Hillary Clinton announced she plans universal health care for the country -- think the same business model applies? (saving money by spending money upfront)?

Larry James said...

From what I've read and heard since yesterday, Clinton's plan is also a combination approach that allows the insured to stand pat with what they have now, while requiring the uninsured to obtain coverage in a plan that combines private insurers, employers, employees and the government. The goal is universal coverage rather than a single payor system. This sounds much like the plan in Massachusetts and the plan suggested by the state of California.

bpb said...

KUDOS to San Francisco and their leaders!