Posts Tagged ‘Department of Public Health.’

John Avalos, Dennis Herrera, Phil Ting, and Leland Yee All Oppose Ed Lee Healthy SF Loophole Veto Threat

Wednesday, October 5th, 2011

See? Here they are to oppose politician Ed Lee’s veto threat.

As you might have expected, famous Steve Rhodes was on the scene this AM

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Here’s what John Avalos has to say about health care:

“As Mayor, I will create a task force of experts to help me keep Healthy San Francisco strong and viable to serve individuals who are left out of health reform, especially our immigrant residents. We must stand up to profit-driven corporations and their lobbyists to finally close the loopholes in Healthy SF. I will also make sure sure the employer spending requirement of the Health Care Security Ordinance is not adversely affected by the Federal Health Reform.”

Here’s Mayor Ed Lee’s downtown-oriented proposal:

“MAYOR LEE INTRODUCES LEGISLATION TO IMPROVE HEALTH CARE ACCESS & PROTECT JOBS

San Francisco, CA—Mayor Edwin M. Lee today introduced legislation at the Board of Supervisors to close a loophole in San Francisco’s Health Care Security Ordinance (HSCO). The legislation preserves the City’s groundbreaking universal health care access and protects jobs.

“This legislation begins to close a loophole and lays out a framework that honors our commitment to health care access for all while protecting jobs in our City’s small businesses,” said Mayor Lee. “I thank Supervisor David Campos for identifying this loophole and President David Chiu for working on a solution. I know we can all work together to achieve the same bottom-line objective; providing universal health care access and protecting jobs in our City. I look forward to working in partnership with Supervisor Campos, Supervisor Chiu, and all members of the Board in crafting a viable solution.”

Mayor Lee’s legislation provides more health care access while protecting jobs in the City’s small businesses. The legislation will address the loophole in employer deposits into workers’ Health Reimbursement Accounts (HRA). Workers with an HRA are able to draw down the funds in those accounts for a range of health care expenses from reimbursement for health services to payment for health insurance premiums to buying into our Healthy San Francisco program.

Mayor Lee’s plan focuses on increasing the accessibility of HRA funds to reimburse privately purchased insurance or to pay for participation in Healthy San Francisco. Mayor Lee has secured commitments from the business community to communicate with their members about the importance of making these types of expenses eligible under individual businesses’ HRA plans. Additionally, Mayor Lee’s plan includes a robust data-gathering effort through the Office of Labor Standards Enforcement to determine how widespread the problem is, and therefore to best tailor a policy solution. By increasing access to health coverage options we ensure that San Francisco workers can more fully exercise the benefit provided them under the HSCO.

Mayor Lee considered the impact to City small businesses and its likelihood of costing employees their jobs while ensuring that businesses comply with the HCSO. Unlike other approaches which the Controller reports could eliminate nearly 500 jobs, this legislation strikes a balance that closes the loophole, provides health care to everyone, protects jobs, and grows the City’s economy.

Mayor Lee will continue to work with all parties – from workers, organized labor, small business owners, Department of Public Health, and the City’s elected leaders – to find the appropriate solution on this important public policy challenge to close the loophole.”

Looks like we have a standoff.

WWW.SmokeFreeMovies.UCSF.EDU What? Apparently, UCSF Doesn’t Want CA to Subsidize Films that Depict Smoking

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

Did you know that the state of California subsidizes movie production Down Hollywood Way to the tune of $100,000,000 a year? Well, some people want the Sacramento to cut off this source of movie funding for films that depict smoking, that’s the news of the day.

Did The Social Network glamorize smoking as far as you remember? I don’t recall, but it will win a few Oscars on Sunday so it’s as good a target as any, I s’pose. Here’s the closest I could find to a still that has somebody smoking:

(Hey, why does California subsidize film production in the first place? Shouldn’t Jerry Brown or somebody cut off this kind of corporate welfare tout de suite?)

All the deets, here and after the jump:

California Health Experts Fault State’s $100 Million Movie Subsidy, Ask for Reform - L.A. County’s health chief and the chair of California’s expert committee on tobacco control want future film projects with smoking made ineligible for millions in California tax credits

SAN FRANCISCO, Feb. 23, 2011 — Should California taxpayers invest millions of dollars to prevent youth smoking, then hand millions to studios whose films promote youth smoking?

That’s the contradiction spotlighted in separate letters to the California Film Commission released today from Jonathan Fielding, MD, director of L.A. County’s Department of Public Health, and Michael Ong, MD, chair of the Tobacco Education and Research Oversight Committee, which is mandated by the legislature to guide state tobacco prevention efforts.

Dr. Fielding’s letter, dated January 14, notes that two recent Sony blockbusters, The Social Network and Burlesque, both rated PG-13 and featuring tobacco imagery, qualified for more than $12 million in California tax credits through a $100 million a year program that began its payouts on January 1, 2011. (The two films have grossed $135 million so far.) “Any benefit that tobacco-related subsidies for films might have for California’s interstate competitiveness must be balanced against proven, catastrophic ‘collateral damage’ to young audiences and long-term health costs to the state,” the letter says.

Dr. Ong’s letter, dated February 18, reports that “approximately 44 percent of adolescent smoking initiation can be attributed to exposure to onscreen smoking” and 100,000 high school students in California are currently smokers as a result of this exposure. “It is unconscionable that one state program threatens to undermine our state’s public health achievements and goals, our investment in tobacco prevention, and our savings in health care costs, particularly in a time of declining state revenues,” the letter says.

Both letters urge that future film projects with smoking be made ineligible for taxpayer subsidies in California. Similar reforms are advocated by health groups in New York, New Mexico, Ontario and British Columbia, all major sources of film production subsidies. In 2008, U.S. states granted an estimated $500 million in production subsidies to youth-rated films with smoking, rivaling the $518 million they will spend for tobacco prevention in 2011.

Also today, the Smoke Free Movies campaign based at University of California, San Francisco, published a full-page ad in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter noting that two-thirds of Oscar®-nominated films this year include smoking and forty percent of these are rated PG or PG-13. The ad centers on the new animated film Rango (Viacom: Paramount and Nickelodeon) opening March 4. Headline: “How many studio execs did it take to OK smoking in a ‘PG’ movie?” California already makes animated films ineligible for public subsidy. The ad can be seen at www.smokefreemovies.ucsf.edu/ourads/index.html.

SOURCE University of California, San Francisco, Smoke Free Movies Initiative

University of California, San Francisco, Smoke Free Movies Initiative

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Half of Chinatown Restaurant Workers Make Less Than Minimum Wage per Chinese Progressive Association

Friday, September 17th, 2010

Do you like reading reports? Well, today’s your lucky day. You’ll get to read all about how restaurant workers get treated in San Francisco’s Chinatown after today’s lunchtime news conference.

This draft report from last year should whet your appetite. It’s big, baby:

Health and Safety in San Francisco’s Chinatown Restaurants (.pdf)

The final report is called Check, Please! Health and Working Conditions in San Francisco’s Chinatown Restaurants. You should be able to find it here starting later on today.

This is the kind of thing that investigators looked at:

All the deets:

Study Finds 1 out of 2 Workers Making Below Minimum Wage in San Francisco Chinatown Restaurants: Millions Lost to the Local Economy Every Year

Friday, September 17th, San Francisco, CA – Chinatown restaurant workers in conjunction with the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA) and key research partners will release a study that exposes sweatshop conditions in restaurant workers in the popular tourist district Chinatown. This groundbreaking report examines health and working conditions in Chinatown restaurants, with over 400 workers interviewed by their peers, and lays out a vision for improving working conditions for a healthy Chinatown.

Speakers: (partial list)

Chinatown restaurant workers
Meredith Minkler, DrPH, MPH, world renowned expert on health and equity, UC Berkeley
Rajiv Bhatia, MD, MPH, Director of Occupational and Environmental Health, San Francisco Department of Public Health
Pam Tau Lee, Labor Occupational Health Program, UC Berkeley
SF Board of Supervisors: David Chiu, John Avalos, David Campos and Eric Mar (in attendance, not all will speak)

Key findings about the working conditions include:

1 out of 2 workers (50%) receive less than minimum wage;
1 out of 5 workers (20%) work more than 60 hours a week;
Nearly half (48%) of workers have experienced a burn injury;
Only 3% of workers have employer provided health care;
and
95% do not receive a living wage

Through this important study, Check, Please! Health and Working Conditions in San Francisco Chinatown Restaurants, Chinatown workers are exposing the sweatshop working conditions that they must endure. While thousands of locals and tourists who enjoy Chinatown each day, workers are struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families. Many workers and their families are forced to live in Single Room Occupancy (SRO) spaces in Chinatown that average about 80 square feet.

All the deets, after the jump

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Senator Leland Yee Introduces SB 220, A Bill Requiring Coverage for Tobacco Cessation

Friday, March 12th, 2010

Senator Leland Yee is today proposing a law that would require health insurance policies to include coverage for tobacco cessation services. He made the announcement today at San Francisco General Hospital along with all these people:

Supervisor Eric Mar
Dr. Mitch Katz, San Francisco Department of Public Health
Serena Chen, American Lung Association
John Hanley, San Francisco Firefighters
Dr. Dexter Louie, California Medical Association
Gail Maderis, BayBio
Dr. Steve Fugaro, San Francisco Medical Society
Karen Licavoli-Farnkopf, Breathe California

District 2 Supervisor Eric Mar talked about his parents, who both “smoked like crazy.”

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All the deets:

Bill Introduced to Require Insurance Companies Cover Tobacco Cessation. Senator Yee and Supervisor Mar team-up to sponsor legislation to fight cancer
 
SAN FRANCISCO – According the US Surgeon General, tobacco use is the single greatest cause of disease and premature death in America today and is responsible for more than 435,000 deaths annually, including nearly 40,000 in California alone. 

In an effort to fight this epidemic, Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco) today teamed-up with San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar, the American Lung Association, doctors, and firefighters to introduce legislation that would mandate health insurance policies include coverage for tobacco cessation services such as patches, nasal sprays, inhalers, gum, prescription medications, and counseling.

“The societal costs of tobacco-related death and disease approach $96 billion annually in medical expenses and $97 billion in lost productivity nationwide,” said Yee.  “More then 70 percent of all current smokers, however, have expressed a desire to stop smoking.  By ensuring that health plans cover the cost of quitting, more Californians will be able to kick this bad habit, medical costs will be reduced, and most importantly, lives will be saved.”

In 2006, as part of its universal healthcare program, Massachusetts began covering most expenses for smoking cessation counseling and prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients. The result has been an astonishing drop in the population of poor people who smoke — from 38% to 28%. There is also evidence of a parallel reduction in hospitalization for heart attacks and treatments for asthma.

“Smoking disproportionately impacts those in economically disadvantaged communities,” said Mar, who is sponsoring a resolution in support of Yee’s bill.  “Requiring health care providers to include coverage for smokers who would like to quit smoking creates a healthier California and protects the public’s health.”

About 20 percent of adult Americans currently smoke, and 4,000 children and adolescents smoke their first cigarette each day.  According to the California Department of Public Health, the adult smoking rate in California is 14 percent and there are approximately 3.8 million current adult smokers in California.

“It’s time to make it easier for the nearly four million Californians who smoke, to quit,” said Jane Warner, President and CEO of the American Lung Association in California.  “Because, right now, we’re failing these people as highlighted by the ‘D’ grade earned in Cessation Coverage by the state in the American Lung Association’s recent State of Tobacco Control Report.”

“SB 220 takes another important step in the long journey of providing Californians the support and incentives they need to quit using tobacco products,” said Brennan Cassidy, M.D., president of the California Medical Association, which represents 35,000 physicians across the state. “Requiring health plans to cover smoking cessation treatment is a no-brainer. We know that when a person quits smoking it saves the health care system immensely by significantly reducing the chances of heart disease, lung cancer and other life-threatening diseases that require intensive, expensive treatment.”

“Smoking cessation is more cost-effective than other common and insurance-covered disease prevention interventions, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol treatment and routine cancer screenings,” said Yee.  “Consumers need and deserve this treatment option.”

With SB 220, California would become the 8th state to mandate coverage for tobacco cessation services.  In addition to the American Lung Association, Yee’s bill is supported by the California Medical Association, California Psychological Association, San Francisco Firefighters Local 798, San Francisco Medical Society, National Council of Asian & Pacific Islander Physicians, and the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, AFL-CIO.

Senator Leland Yee Wants a Clean Needle Program to Prevent Spread of HIV, Hep C

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Our Senator Leland Yee, Ph.D. is today calling for support for his Clean Needle Bill, SB 1029. It would permit all California pharmacists to sell up to 30 sterile syringes to drug users aged 18 and over. Why? To prevent the spread of HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases that live in used syringes.

All the deets of today’s presser with Mark Cloutier, CEO of the San Francisco AIDS Foundation and Barry Zevin, MD, a San Francisco primary care and HIV clinician, below.

Senator Yee, PhD:

Yee Introduces Clean Needle Bill. Legislation would allow pharmacies to sell sterile syringes to prevent spread of HIV & Hepatitis C
 
Today, State Senator Leland Yee (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) was joined by doctors, pharmacists, and AIDS prevention advocates to introduce legislation that would allow pharmacies throughout California the discretion to sell up to 30 sterile syringes to an adult without a prescription
 
California is one of only three states that still prohibit pharmacists from selling a syringe without a prescription.  Most states amended their laws in light of evidence that criminalized access to sterile syringes led drug users to share used ones, and that sharing syringes spread HIV, hepatitis B, hepatitis C and other blood-borne diseases that can live in a used syringe.
 
This is an effective public health measure which is proven to reduce health care costs to taxpayers,” said Yee.  “It’s a moral, as well as fiscal imperative.”
 
“Access to sterile syringes is a vital component of a comprehensive strategy to combat HIV and hepatitis,” said Yee.  “This approach has been evaluated extensively throughout the world and has been found to significantly reduce rates of HIV and hepatitis without contributing to any increase in drug use, drug injection, crime or unsafe discard of syringes.”
 
Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger (R-Los Angeles) signed legislation in 2004 to create a five-year pilot to evaluate the safety and efficacy of allowing adults to purchase and possess a limited number of syringes for personal use.  Under the pilot program pharmacies in Los Angeles County, the Bay Area and some other parts of the state have been allowed to sell syringes.
 
Yee’s SB 1029 would remove the sunset and allow all pharmacists throughout the state with the discretion to sell sterile syringes without a prescription.
 
Sharing of used syringes is the most common cause of new hepatitis C infections in California and the second most common cause of HIV infections.  The state Department of Public Health estimates that approximately 3,000 California residents contract hepatitis C through syringe sharing every year and another 750 cases of HIV are caused by syringe sharing.
 
These diseases are costly and potentially deadly. Hospitalizations for hepatitis B and hepatitis C cost the state $2 billion in 2007, according to a report by the California Research Bureau.  The lifetime cost of treating hepatitis C is approximately $100,000, unless a liver transplant is required, and then the cost exceeds $300,000 per surgery.  The lifetime cost of treating HIV/AIDS is now estimated to exceed $600,000 per patient.
 
By comparison, a syringe costs about ten to fifteen cents retail.  The bill requires no appropriation of state funds, because it allows adults to buy syringes at their own expense.
 
Among health policy researchers speaking in favor of SB 1029, Alex Kral, an epidemiologist who has supervised several studies of HIV prevention said, “In light of over 200 studies worldwide that establish improved syringe access means less disease with no downside, to continue a policy of making syringe sales illegal would amount to health policy malpractice.”
 
The 200 studies Kral referred to were reviewed by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2008.  WHO concluded that the overwhelming scientific consensus showed improved syringe access reduced rates of HIV and hepatitis without contributing to drug use, crime or unsafe discard of syringes. 
 
“There is not one credible study from anywhere in the world that refutes these findings,” Kral said.
 
Among the numerous studies cited was one published in the American Journal of Public Health from 2001 that compared US cities that allowed pharmacists to sell syringes to adults without a prescription and those that did not.  The study found that the rate of HIV among drug injectors was twice as high in cities that forbid sale without a prescription than those cities that allowed pharmacists greater flexibility to provide syringes.
 
“This approach has been overwhelmingly supported by the health professions,” said Yee. “I look forward to working with my colleagues in the Legislature, the Governor and the California Department of Public Health to craft the most efficient and cost-effective means of saving lives and public dollars by preventing HIV and hepatitis C.”
 
SB 1029 will be considered in committee in March.

A Silver Tsunami of 600 Seniors Sweeps Over City Hall

Tuesday, May 12th, 2009

Supervisors Chris Daly, Ross Mirkarimi, David Campos and others all attended this well-attended rally of seniors against budget cuts at San Francisco City Hall today.

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The promise of free food probably helped turnout, but this was an impressive display regardless.

Silver Tsunami
When: May 12, 2009 – Tuesday
10:30 a.m. to 12:30
Where: Civic Center Plaza at corner of Polk and McAllister
What: Save Senior and Disability Programs.  Senior citizens and people with disabilities will “flood” San Francisco’s City Hall steps and the Civic Center as a dramatic “Silver Tsunami”.  Join the Coalition of Agencies serving the Elderly (CASE) along with Senior Action Network (SAN), and Planning for Elders in the Central City (PECC) for a rally to protest the recent budget cuts from Senior and Disability Programs and well as the Department of Public Health.