Mayor's Answer to Budget Crisis: Expand Universal Health Care!

This man wants to sell you health insurance. More of it.

Mayor Gavin Newsom today announced an unexpected new initiative -- the expansion of San Francisco's universal health care program, Healthy San Francisco, to cover all city residents with incomes below five times the federal poverty level. Call us crazy, but we can already hear the Cuba Gooding Jr. imitations echoing in the chambers of the Board of Supervisors.

So how, exactly, will Newsom show them the money?

San Francisco is currently facing what many experts deem the worst fiscal crisis in city history, stemming from shortfalls in tax revenue. A broad range of painful cuts to social services has been proposed, and the Department of Public Health is likely to be among the most affected.

Healthy San Francisco currently serves about 35,000 people, and the new proposal would make eligible all individuals earning less than $52,000 per year and families earning under $106,000. The mayor's press office says the money for the expansion will come from the city and state budgets. At the time of this post, we're awaiting further details.

The announcement comes two days after new Board of Supervisors President David Chiu hunkered down with labor and business leaders to hash out ways to address the budget crisis. Newsom was absent. For anyone evaluating city politicians' leadership, we doubt the mayor's latest proposal will put him out in front.

Read the announcement here
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