Washington kicking 40,000 off state health plan — while San Francisco enrolls 600 weekly

Health care “stakeholders” are meeting in Olympia to discuss how to take 40,000 people off the state’s health care plan, even while the numbers of uninsured grow. Drive half a day south and it’s a different story. San Francisco is enrolling 600 people a week in Healthy San Francisco, the city’s universal health-care program.

According to Mayor Gavin Newsom, Healthy San Francisco is cost-effective, simple to administer, preserves patient choice — and is ready to scale up:

I’ve been in our nation’s capital this week meeting with Obama Administration officials and Congressional leaders about national health care reform. Everywhere I go, from the White House to the Department of Labor to the U.S. Senate, I get the same question: can San Francisco’s universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco, be scaled?

The answer is yes.

The program got under way in 2007, and the results do look promising. It requires private companies with at least 20 employees and not-for-profit groups with at least 50 employees either to provide health care benefits to workers at a cost that meets minimum spending levels or help cover the cost of Healthy San Francisco. The program is not health insurance because it covers services only in San Francisco.

According to the Associated Press, elected leaders in Washington DC appear to be going in a different direction – but voices calling on Congress and the Obama administration to take a hard look at universal health care are growing louder:

…hundreds of nurses swarmed Capitol Hill on Wednesday to call for “single payer” — or government-run — health care, and demand “no” votes from liberal lawmakers on anything falling short. Congressional leaders on health care have taken single payer off the table as politically impractical.

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