San Francisco Offers Health Care To All Uninsured Residents

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As part of an effort to "patch an inadequate federal system," the city of San Francisco has launched a program to offer subsidized or no-cost health care for all of the city's 82,000 uninsured adults, the New York Times reports. Healthy San Francisco, the first effort in the nation of a locality to offer health care to all of its residents, is being financed primarily by the city.

The San Francisco government is "gambling that it can provide universal and sensibly managed care to the uninsured for about the amount being spent on their treatment now, often in emergency rooms," according to the Times. The program had an initial trial period of two months in two Chinatown clinics and is expected to expand to additional locations on Sept. 17.

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Healthy San Francisco will offer uninsured residents access to 14 city health clinics and eight community clinic affiliates, and the program will focus on preventive care and chronic disease management. Eventually, the city plans to include private medical networks in the program. Until November, enrollment will be extended to uninsured residents living below the federal poverty level. After that, it will be offered to any resident who has been uninsured for at least 90 days, regardless of immigration status or income level.

To date, enrollment has exceeded expectations, officials say. Mayor Gavin Newsom said, "We really didn't know what the interest level would be, so we're very pleased," adding, "At the same time, we don't want overexuberance yet because we don't want to fall of our own weight" (Sack, New York Times, 9/14).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

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