What Happens to San Francisco’s Medical Safety Net Under the Republican Bill?

By Laura Klivan : kqed – excerpt

In her office in Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, Dr.  Alice Chen pulled down a blue box she keeps on top of a file cabinet. She set it on her lap and leafed through a stack of thank-you notes, until she found one from a former patient that she wanted to read aloud.

“I feel enormously fortunate to have been granted such a willing and able team to support me during such a tough period,” she read.

The grateful patient who wrote those words was uninsured, but was still able to get some treatment at Zuckerberg at the time. That’s because Zuckerberg — and other taxpayer-funded hospitals across California —formed the medical safety net of last resort for 17 million uninsured Californians before 2014. That was the year the Affordable Care Act kicked into gear, which helped California lower that uninsured rate down to 7 percent…

“We are deeply troubled by the CBO’s finding that the amount of support provided for consumers to buy health insurance in 2020,  under proposed legislation would be only 60 percent of what is provided under current law,” Lee said in a press release.

Before the Affordable Care Act, 40 percent of patients at Zuckerberg San Francisco General were uninsured. Now it’s down to 3 percent, according to hospital CEO Susan Ehrlich…

Beyond concerns for patients, hospital staff members are worried about funding. Provisions of the Affordable Care Act added $125 million in revenue to the annual budget of the hospital and an affiliated network of neighborhood clinics.

“If Medi-Cal expansion is capped, then some of our patients will not be insured,” said nurse Philippa Doyle. Medi-Cal expansion provided coverage for more Californians than those traditionally included in the Medi-Cal pool. “Because we treat everybody, then our reimbursement will go down significantly, and we won’t be able to provide resources that we are currently.”…

Under the AHCA, public hospitals like San Francisco General are expected to lose tens of millions of dollars in government support every year…(more)


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