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Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Gavin Newsom and Universal Health Care

Most of the people reading this have already come to terms with the fact that we aren't going to see much progress from the federal government for at least the next 30 months. Yet for many of the same reasons why a grassroots approach gives the netroots power, a bottom up policy approach is progressing across the nation.

Many of you have Democratic local leadership or Democratic state leadership, this is a diary you may want to consider emailing to your representatives. Because this diary is a quantification of how bold local progressive leadership is good for the politician leading and great for the people who benefit.

I want to use San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom for the example. Newsom offered a bold, west coast offense on civil liberties and surged to an 86% approval rating, even those who disagreed with him respected him for having the backbone to stand up and fight for marriage equality. Newsom has also lead for free wireless internet and fought for stem cell research.

But right now, Newsom is taking on the biggest fight of his political career: the battle for universal health care.

Yesterday, Gavin Newsom introduced a Universal Health Care plan. Bold action. Key issue. The press loves it. This should serve as an example for every local government controlled by Democrats, bold action is rewarded -- just look at the press:

The local NBC station on Gavin Newsom:

The city of San Francisco is going forward with something that the federal and state governments are shying away from -- universal healthcare.

Flanked by supervisors and doctors, Mayor Gavin Newsom announced the creation of a new health-care program Tuesday.

The $200 million plan would service 82,000 uninsured city residents.

"San Francisco is not waiting around for new federal or state constructs or mandates. It's moving forward to fulfill its moral obligation to insure the 82,000 San Franciscans that are currently uninsured," Newsom said.
Isn't it great to see a story about Democrats leading because of our moral values? Simply put, it is easy for the press to do great stories on health care because there are so many personal examples, as the local ABC station reported on Gavin Newsom's plan:
Nastasha Drobnica works between 25 and 30 hours a week waiting tables at Rosa Pistola. She has no health care insurance because under the restaurants health plan employers working less than 28 hours must pay $500 a month for the insurance.

Nastasha Drobnica: "That's kind of my problem right now, I can't really swing that."
Some 82,000 San Franciscans share that same problem. Thousands rely on emergency room services or go without. Today San Francisco's mayor announced a plan to change that.

Mayor Gavin Newsom: "This city is going to be the first city in America with universal health access."
Democrats should focus on universal access to primary, preventative, and catastrophic care, from the local Fox affiliate on Gavin Newsom:
The program, called the San Francisco Health Access Plan, seeks to give all San Franciscans access to health care services, especially primary and catastrophic care services, the mayor's office reported.

Medical coverage would include access to a primary physician, specialty medical services, urgent and emergency care, laboratory services, inpatient hospitalization services, radiology and prescription drug coverage, according to the mayor's office.
"Providing San Francisco's uninsured with high quality public and private health care is a top priority for me. I am pleased to receive the recommendations of this impressive council. This plan allows for every San Franciscan to have access to ongoing primary and preventative healthcare," Newsom said.
For Democrats elected to non-federal offices, quit bitching and start doing, from the AP:
"Rather than lamenting about the fact that we live in a country with 45.8 million Americans that don't have health insurance ... San Francisco is doing something about it," Newsom said. "San Francisco is moving forward to fulfill its moral obligation."
Instead of playing defense, Democrats need to put our ideas forward, as Knight Ridder reported on the Gavin Newsom plan:
San Francisco, eager to put its stamp on the health care debate, unveiled an ambitious plan Tuesday that would make it the first city in the nation to provide every uninsured resident with access to medical services. [...]

At a packed news conference, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom declared that the city would set a national standard for universal access to health care.
Other leaders need to pull people together and follow or create best practices, as the LA Times reported on Gavin Newsom:
City officials joined by labor, nonprofit and business leaders Tuesday unveiled a plan to offer comprehensive healthcare to this city's 82,000 uninsured residents. [...]

Despite remaining hurdles, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom lauded the plan as a national model. [...]

Newsom stepped in after the business community balked, bringing them to the table with the city's private hospitals, philanthropists, county public health officials and others.
Bold action and strong leadership can reshape the debate -- instead of following polls -- leaders can move the polls as the SF Sentinel reported on Gavin Newsom:
San Francisco reshaped the national debate on universal health care today by announcing all uninsured local residents will have access to health care beginning in 2007.

Known as the San Francisco Health Access Plan (SFHAP), it was finalized Monday after 125 days of public and private sector collaboration. San Francisco is the first City in the nation to offer universal health care access. [...]

An array of stakeholders with often conflicting interests - from labor and business leaders to politicians mindful of election season spotlight - stayed together under banner of the Universal Health Care Council (UHC) for those 125 days to craft the plan they universally supported Monday.
Incrementalism is a slow way of getting where we need to be, Fighting Democrats should get ambitious so their hometown papers will write stories like the one the San Francisco Chronicle wrote about Gavin Newsom:
Mayor Gavin Newsom announced an ambitious proposal Tuesday that would make San Francisco the first city in the country to provide taxpayer-subsidized health care to all uninsured residents, covering services like doctor visits, surgeries and prescription drugs.

San Francisco is home to an estimated 82,000 uninsured residents, who typically go to public clinics and hospitals for treatment. The plan, dubbed San Francisco Health Access Program, would offer people the primary and preventive health care they lack and allow them to access hundreds of doctors in public and private hospitals and clinics.

Efforts to provide universal access to health care in San Francisco have been made before, but they have failed. Newsom, who is facing re-election in 2007 and has made the topic a cornerstone of his administration, is optimistic that his plan, which would need approval by the Board of Supervisors, will be implemented beginning next year.

"This is not a pipe dream," Newsom said. "This city is going to be the first city in America to achieve universal health care access."
Universal health care shouldn't be a pipe dream, it should be a priority. For the time being, it is not going to happen at the national level. So spread the word about how this can happen with bold leadership from Democrats.

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