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Originally published July 19 2006

San Francisco approves universal health care coverage

by NaturalNews

(NaturalNews) A plan to expand the San Francisco health care plan to cover uninsured residents received initial approval Tuesday from the city's Board of Supervisors. Under the plan, the city's physicians and clinics currently serving the state's public health insurance program for low-income residents, Medi-Cal, will be expanded.

San Francisco residents who join the program will not be covered outside the city limits, nor for elective cosmetic surgery, fertility services, dental or vision.

The compromise between the mayor and the liberal-leaning majority of the Board of Supervisors -- the key to the proposal's passing -- means that businesses and other employers will be required to cover their employees by paying $1.06 or $1.60 an hour (depending on the size of the company) per worker if they don't already help pay on a plan that is equal to or better than the planned city coverage.

Even so, the program will cost an additional $200 million a year. It will be partially covered by the $104 million that San Francisco already spends annually on health care for uninsured patients, consumer premiums and co-payments.

Even though companies that already spend more than the per-hour-per-worker rate proposed would not be required to participate in the plan, some still disagree with it. Nathan Nayman, director of the Downtown Business Association Committee on Jobs, said the program would be a hardship for all but the biggest businesses.

If the plan passes a second board vote next week and is signed into law by Mayor Newsom, it will go into effect next year. San Francisco would then be the first large metropolitan area in the United States to enact a universal health care measure.


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