Angelides lauds S.F.’s Healthy Kids program

Phil Angelides, who recently won the Democratic primary election for governor, called San Francisco’s health care coverage for children “a model” that he would replicate within his first year of office if he were to win in November.

“There is no better place to make this announcement than side by side with Gavin Newsom, who has stepped up and shown that here in San Francisco we can cover every child, we can cover every young adult,” Angelides said, speaking Monday during a campaign stop at a North Beach health clinic. “We can step up and do the right thing.”

San Francisco’s Healthy Kids program, the only community health plan in the United States to extend medical, dental, vision and pharmacy benefits to children and young adults, ages 0-24, has an annual price tag of $11.35 million, according to the Mayor’s press office.

Angelides, the state treasurer, said he’d pay for a similar program for the state’s estimated 800,000 uninsured children — and provide more money for public education — by rolling back about $5 billion in tax breaks for “big corporations and from couples making half a million a year.”

He also vowed to eventually expand universal health coverage for all Californians — a promise also made by Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger last week.

On Monday, Angelides said his Republican competitor can’t be counted on to live up to his promises, noting Schwarzenegger vetoed two bills last year that were created to provide medical coverage for uninsured children. At the time, the governor said he supported the concept, but questioned where the money would come from to pay for it.

Newsom — who said he is working in tandem with Supervisor Tom Ammiano and a blue-ribbon committee to hammer out a health care plan that would cover all of The City’s uninsured residents — called it a “disgrace” not to offer universal health coverage. He added that San Francisco’s programs are proving that it was economically feasible to offer the free coverage to those who can’t afford to pay for it.

On Monday afternoon, the blue-ribbon committee — made up of representatives from city businesses, labor groups, nonprofit organizations and health care — met to continue working on a plan that Newsom said could be announced by next Tuesday.

Critics of universal health care warn that such systems — if forced upon all citizens — result in substandard health coverage that, in the end, everybody pays for.

“Universal health care is a meaningless term — what are you going to tax me?” said John Graham, director of health care studies for the Pacific Research Institute. Graham added that many people who are uninsured already qualify for some sort of government subsidized health care, but still choose to wait for an expensive emergency before seeking help.

“Why create another plan that nobody is going to sign up for?” he said.

beslinger@examiner.comn The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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