A Conversation About Expanding Health Care Access

For the past few months I have been holding town hall forums across California and no matter where I go, the issue of health care is front and center. These concerns are getting more pronounced and more passionate as the weeks wear on and unemployment continues to rise. People are losing their employer-based health care and COBRA is a temporary and expensive stopgap measure that is stressing already maxed-out family budgets.

The need for bold programs addressing the health care crisis was brought into focus by a new UC Berkeley report showing that more than 500,000 Californians have lost their health care since the start of the recession.

In the past five years, we have worked hard to provide universal health care in San Francisco through our Healthy San Francisco program. We have now enrolled over 38,000 of our city’s estimated 60,000 uninsured. It’s a great start but there is still much work to do here in San Francisco and across California as the new UC Berkeley report clearly lays out.

On my Green 960 radio show this week I talked with Lloyd Dean, the head of Catholic Healthcare West, Mitch Katz, Director of San Francisco Department of Public Health and Tangerine Brigham, Director of Healthy San Francisco about how to bring the “Healthy SF” model to other cities and towns throughout California.

As we discuss on the show, a critical next step for any city or town looking to replicate Healthy SF is to start organizing their community health clinics. Community clinics have historically provided services to uninsured and underserved populations. It’s important for any health care effort at the local, state or federal level to include these crucial providers.

I hope you will listen to the show and let us know your thoughts and suggestions in the comment section as we work to create better health care service here and universal health care across California. As the President and Congress move to reform the health care system in Washington – the time is now to let your voice be heard.

Listen to Mayor Newsom’s Green 960 radio show online or subscribe to his weekly policy discussions on iTunes.  Join Mayor Newsom on Facebook. You can also follow him on Twitter.

One thought on “A Conversation About Expanding Health Care Access”

  1. as I understand it you’re calling to cut health care by 25% in your city budget, to cover a $438 million shortfall.  How can you continue to tout Healthy SF in the way you do while neglecting to mention that you’re cutting the budget of the Department that funds it, as well as the community health centers you consider so vital?

    In one of the poorest districts of the city, the Tenderloin neighborhood, a drop-in center for Latinos is slated to be cut completely, and another flagship aid program, Tenderloin Health, is set to close its doors July 1, after serving as the area’s primary health resource center since 1990.

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