Critical Condition

San Francisco’s Tax Hikes No Model for Health Reform

While we’re talking about Tennessee and other states that are rebelling against a federal take-over of our access to medical services, it might be timely to bring one of the president’s biggest cheerleaders in local and state politics into the mix.

Gavin Newsom, mayor of my hometown of San Francisco, and candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor of California, likes to shill for the “public option” in national health reform (when he’s not fining San Franciscans for not composting their kitchen scraps, or dropping cigarette butts on the sidewalk).

He claims that his “Healthy San Francisco” plan, which levied a job-killing tax-hike on small businesses like restaurants (which unsuccessfully sued the city to roll-back the plan) is a model for the public option.

But Healthy San Francisco isn’t as much about improving access to care as it is about increasing funding for the city’s public-health bureaucracy, as I explain in a column in today’s San Francisco Chronicle.

— John R. Graham is director of Health Care Studies at the Pacific Research Institute.