| Universal Healthcare for All: San Francisco Continues to Lead by Example
By Gavin Newsom, SF Mayor Mar 18, 2008
As Mayor of San Francisco, I am committed to the health and well-being of San Francisco residents and of our communities. Last year, under my direction, the San Francisco Department of Public Health launched the Healthy San Francisco program (HSF). Over 11,000 residents are currently participating in the program.
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HSF is an innovative program designed to make health care services accessible and affordable to uninsured adult San Francisco residents. The program will help the estimated 73,000 uninsured adults who lack access to a regular doctor who can provide routine primary care and preventive services. San Francisco residents are eligible for HSF irrespective of employment status, immigration status or the existence of pre-existing medical conditions.
HSF provides universal access to care and changes how we provide care to uninsured persons. While HSF is not insurance, it does provide program participants with comprehensive services.
Under HSF, uninsured residents will have access to the following services: primary care, preventive services, specialty care, pharmacy, mental health and substance abuse services, laboratory services access to medical equipment, hospital services, urgent care and emergency care. HSF participants receive services from a medical home that they choose. The medical home will provide primary care and preventive services. In addition, the primary care medical home will help coordinate a participantís access to specialty services, hospital services, pharmacy, etc.
I am pleased to announce that HSF has a network of 22 primary care medical homes at 27 different sites. The medical homes include both public and private, non-profit clinics in a valuable partnership. For a list of all the participant clinics, go to: http://www.healthysanfrancisco.org/participants/accessing_services/your_medical_home.aspx. Participants can select the medical home that is most appropriate for their needs. Because of San Franciscoís diversity, the primary care medical homes offer appropriate cultural and linguistic environments for participants seeking medical care.
Specialty, inpatient, laboratory and pharmacy services are provided at San Francisco General Hospital. Mental health and substance abuse services are provided by the San Francisco Department of Public Healthís Community Behavioral Health Services division.
To help uninsured residents enroll in HSF, the program uses on common application form at all of the 27 different primary care medical homes. This electronic enrollment process is web-based and will make it easier for residents to enroll in the program. Once every twelve months, participants re-certify their eligibility to remain in the program.
The program has several new features that will make it easier for participants to receive good customer service. All participants receive a HSF identification card. The card letís participants know that they are enrolled in the program and also includes the participantís medical home and address. Participants use their HSF identification card when they go to obtain services from their doctor or clinic. Participants also receive a HSF handbook after they are enrolled in the program. The HSF handbook is easy to understand and use, and provides participants with helpful information on the services provided under HSF. In addition, HSF has its own customer services call center. The call center responds to any questions or concerns that HSF participants have.
Under Healthy San Francisco, participants pay a fee to be in the program and when they access services. But, the fee structure takes into account a familiesí income and the number of people in the family. For example, individuals with incomes below 100% of the federal poverty level pay no fees. The same is true for persons who are homeless and those receiving General Assistance. We have made HSF affordable.
Currently, any uninsured resident with income at or below 300% of the federal poverty level (approximately $31,000 for one person and $63,000 for a family of four) and who meets all of the other eligibility requirements is eligible to enroll in Healthy San Francisco. The public can obtain information on applying for the program by calling the Cityís 3-1-1 system or by visiting the programís website at www.healthysanfrancisco.org.
San Francisco is doing what state and federal leaders have failed to do Ė implement comprehensive health care reform. The fact that over 11,000 residents have been enrolled into HSF since the program began in July 2007 shows that San Francisco continues to lead the nation in health care reform. It shows that we made the right decision for our residents. My commitment to expanding health access is unwavering. I know that San Francisco residents applaud our efforts in this critical area.
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