New York has the Statue of Liberty in its harbor. San Francisco might well match it someday with a Statue of Infirmity. The City by the Bay is embarking on an experiment in socialized medicine in one city that provides municipal funds to pay for the health care costs of uninsured residents, even those of illegal immigrants.
San Francisco is already a magnet for all sorts of people unhappy with their current lives. Adding the uninsured sick people of America and the world may seem compassionate, but even the New York Times cannot hide its skepticism about whether this would work out well.
It is financed mostly by the city, which is gambling that it can provide universal and sensibly managed care to the uninsured for about the amount being spent on their treatment now, often in emergency rooms. [....]
After a phased start-up, the city plans to bring private medical networks into the program next year, expanding the choice of doctors. Until November, enrollment will be limited to those living below the federal poverty line ($10,210 for a single person; $20,650 for a family of four). Then it will open to any resident who has been uninsured for at least 90 days, regardless of income or immigration status.
Only then will city officials learn whether the program appeals to middle-class workers, who make up a growing share of the uninsured. And only then can they test whether San Francisco has the medical infrastructure to handle the desired increase in demand, and to do so without raising taxes.
So far, enrollment has exceeded expectations. The city projected that 600 to 1,000 people would sign up by the end of August. More than 1,300 did, even though officials have done little marketing. They hope to enroll about 45,000 people - more than half the city's uninsured - in the first year. Some clinics are adding night hours and small numbers of workers.
"We really didn't know what the interest level would be, so we're very pleased," said Mayor Gavin Newsom. "At the same time, we don't want overexuberance yet because we don't want to fall of our own weight." [emphasis added throughout]
Liberals always are complaining that we are not providing enough help for our own citizens (Michael Moore's Sicko, for example). Now comes a mandate to offer care for immigrants who are not citizens.