Michael Moore gushes over Newsom's health care plan

It was hard to tell who was the star and who was the fan Wednesday morning when filmmaker Michael Moore and Mayor Gavin Newsom came together to discuss health care.

Moore, in town Wednesday to promote his newest documentary about the nation’s health care system, showered affection on Newsom for promoting a universal health care plan in San Francisco and taking a stand on gay marriage.

“I want to say how proud I am to sit next to you here,” Moore said to Newsom at a news conference.

Moore also noted that he admired Newsom for taking a stand against global warming before laughingly concluding, “That’s it, the love fest is over.”

It was a warm and fuzzy moment coming from a man who has built his career on films that criticize others, including the Bush administration in “Fahrenheit 9/11,” and the CEO of General Motors in “Roger and Me.”

Newsom returned the favor, calling Moore a man of “courage and character.”

“No one does it better than Michael Moore,” Newsom said. “Love him or hate him, no one does it better in making an argument.”

The press event eventually turned serious and focused on Moore’s latest film, “Sicko,” which tells stories of Americans who have had problems with the health care system and calls for a national program where every citizen is provided with government-sponsored health care.

According to city data, San Francisco has more than 80,000 residents without health insurance. Starting July 1, The City will roll out a new program to provide affordable health care to all San Franciscans — created through legislation authored by Supervisor Tom Ammiano and backed by Newsom.

The $196 million annual program will be predominately funded by redirecting existing health department resources — approximately $104 million. The City anticipates another $56 million to be raised through sliding scale co-payments from participants. Approximately $28 million a year is expected to come from The City’s business owners that have employees without employer-provided health care.

Business leaders have said the required spending will create a hardship, particularly small businesses, since employers with 20 workers or more will be required to invest $1.17 to $1.85 for each employee hour worked for health care.

San Francisco’s Golden Gate Restaurant Association filed a lawsuit over the legislation, claiming the employer-spending mandate violates federal law. The case has not come to court yet, and city officials are still moving ahead with the program.

beslinger@examiner.com

Each day until voters go to the polls Nov. 6, The Examiner lays odds on local figures beating Mayor Gavin Newsom. Check out our exclusive blog: San Francisco's Next Mayor?


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