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San Francisco Mayor Newsom to Chair USCM Task Force on Health Care Reform

By Crystal Swann
May 11, 2009

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom was named Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Health Care Reform. The task force was created to identify and define mayoral priorities and to inform and advise the work of Congress and the Administration.

“As mayor of San Francisco, the first city to offer universal access for the uninsured, I know that America’s cities can provide compassionate and innovative health care to their residents,” said Newsom. “I am honored to serve as Chair of the U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Health Care Reform. Cities are on the front lines of the most pressing health care needs, and in many ways have proven more adept at innovative health care reform than the state or federal government.”

San Francisco is first city in the nation to offer universal health care through the Healthy San Francisco program. Healthy San Francisco is designed to make health care services accessible and affordable to uninsured San Francisco residents. Currently, there are approximately 39,000 participants in Healthy San Francisco. The program now enrolls new residents at a rate of about 600 new participants every week and is on pace to cover the vast majority of previously uninsured San Franciscans by the end of 2010.

About one-fifth of American adults—or 25 million people—were underinsured in 2007, a 60 percent increase since 2003, according to a report by the nonprofit advocacy organization Community Catalyst. In addition to those who are underinsured, about 45.7 million Americans lacked coverage of any kind in 2007, according to the latest report by the Census Bureau issued in August 2008.

Over the past several years, mayors have played a major role in expanding access, improving quality and addressing the rising cost of health care. As city budgets are increasingly strained in meeting greater demands for safety net health services, cities must effectively identify and connect low-income individuals with insurance coverage, while helping to improve quality of care and build the health information technology infrastructure. The U.S. Conference of Mayors Task Force on Health Care Reform will focus on best practices across the nation in providing high quality, efficient, and cost-effective health care.