Woman adorns stethoscope
Woman adorns stethoscope - 
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Scott Jagow: San Francisco takes a big step today towards universal health coverage. The city is launching a new program for people without insurance who earn less than the federal poverty level.

Part of the money for Healthy San Francisco comes from an emergency care fund for the uninsured. But as Helen Palmer reports from the Health Desk at WGBH, that won't be enough.

Helen Palmer: San Francisco already spends $100 million on health care for the uninsured. To insure all 82,000 of them will cost twice as much.

But Sandra Hernandez of the San Francisco Foundation says the stakeholders are willing:

Sandra Hernandez: A $200 million program to assure access to every San Francisco I think people felt was doable, and that everybody would need to contribute a little bit more, and that the public dollars would need to be spent differently.

There'd be cash for preventive and primary care, rather than emergency treatment, says Hernandez.

The new plan's director, Tangerine Brigham, says employers want to see health costs controlled, because of a new mandate.

Tangerine Brigham: Employers in San Francisco would be required to provide funding for health benefits for their employees.

They can choose the city's new plan. It'll have subsidies for those with low incomes and provide everyone with a medical home, but signing on will be voluntary.

In Boston, I'm Helen Palmer for Marketplace.