Ammiano and Newsom co-author plan
for universal health care access
Parallel Ammiano mandated health care coverage for part-time
workers seen veto-proof
By Pat Murphy
June 19, 2006, UPDATED 10:00 p.m.
Supervisor Tom Ammiano and Mayor Gavin Newsom agreed late today
on a universal health care access plan for 82,000 uninsured San
They will announce co-authorship of that plan Tuesday at an 11:30
a.m. press conference slated in San Francisco Foundation offices.
Details will be finalized at Foundation offices by a stakeholder
health care council established for negotiations. The council
begins its final meeting at 8:30 a.m.
"It's a plan that not only do I wholeheartedly endorse but
it's a plan that Supervisor Ammiano we anticipate will be introducing
formally at the Board of Supervisors as early as tomorrow,"
Newsom told the Sentinel.
Business and labor leaders lobbied Newsom and individual supervisors
throughout the afternoon, with talks overlapping on earlier Ammiano
legislation requiring health care coverage for part-time employees.
Ammiano introduced that legislation on November 22, 2005, originally
mandating part-time worker coverage for businesses employing 20
or more employees. The Budget Committee will meet Wednesday at
1:00 p.m. to consider a final version including employee threshold
"I support the mandate but we obviously got some folks who
are concerned about that but Supervisor Ammiano is going to be
moving ahead," stated Newsom. His office added that Newsom
may suggest staggering implementation over time to buffer impact
Labor representatives met with Newsom at 1:30 p.m., followed
by a 3:00 p.m. mayoral session with business leader. Newsom and
Ammiano met at 4:30 p.m.
Following their meeting with the mayor, business representatives
asked Supervisors Fiona Ma and Bevan Dufty to break from committee
meetings each was attending.
Ammiano's office is confident of a veto-proof majority vote by
the board in favor of the legislation.
Legislative summary of joint Ammiano-Newsom health access program
"The San Francisco Department of Public Health will create
and oversee the program, which will be called the San Francisco
Health Access Program. The City shall provide services through
the program for uninsured and indigent residents pursuant to its
obligations under State and Federal law. The program is not intended
to serve as an insurance plan for participants. Under the program,
uninsured San Francisco residents may obtain medical care including,
but not limited to, services in the areas of preventive, primary,
and specialty care, as well as urgent and emergency care, from
a network consisting of San Francisco General Hospital and the
Department of Health's clinics, and community non-profit providers.
"The Health Access Program will be open to uninsured San
Francisco residents, regardless of employment or immigration status,
who are otherwise eligible for services. No eligible participant
shall be excluded from the program based on a pre-existing condition.
"The program shall provide participants with comprehensive
medical care, with an emphasis on wellness and preventive care.
The available benefits may include laboratory, inpatient hospitalization,
x-ray, elective surgery, and pharmaceuticals. All participants
shall be eligible for the same benefits and health care services.
"The program may be funded from a variety of sources, including
payments from participating employers and individuals, and the
City and County of San Francisco. City funding shall prioritize
program services for low income participants, and will subsidize
where possible, participation by businesses with fewer than one
"A third party vendor, in coordination with the Department
of Public Health, will administer program operations, including
basic customer services, eligibility determinations, enrollment
of individuals and groups, tracking service utilizations, billing,
and communication with the participants.
"Under the proposed legislation, the director of Public
Health shall convene a working group to provide the program with
expert consultation and direction. Members shall be approved by
the Mayor and the Board of Supervisors. The group shall be known
as the Health Access Working Group."