The city of San Francisco will consider a proposal to provide free mental health care and substance abuse treatment to all residents in a referendum in November.
Bay Area public radio station KQED reports that the idea is backed by San Francisco Supervisors Hillary Ronen and Matt Haney, as well as State Assemblyman Phil Ting (D-San Francisco), and would be “the first universal mental health care system in the nation.”
The proposal might seem odd, given the city’s struggle to deal with a growing homeless population, and a public defecation problem so bad that a local resident created a smartphone app, “SnapCrap,” to allow residents to report feces on public sidewalks.
However, proponents of the idea argue that free mental health care and substance abuse treatment could help remedy those problems, as many homeless people suffer mental illness and drug addiction.
The city already offers free health insurance to uninsured residents through a program called “Healthy San Francisco.” The new program, to be dubbed “Mental Health SF,” would be paid for with “a proposed tax increase on companies that pay their chief executive officers 100 times more than the median compensation paid to their employees,” KQED reports, citing the San Francisco Chronicle.
The new proposal comes as state lawmakers are debating whether to expand health insurance to illegal aliens up to the age of 26 and over the age of 65. In addition, as the Associated Press noted last week, California lawmakers are still wrestling with the question of whether to continue a tax on managed care organizations, which requires the cooperation of the federal government. Gov. Gavin Newsom has warned that the Trump administration might reject the tax if it is to be used to pay for benefits to illegal aliens.
Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. He is also the co-author of How Trump Won: The Inside Story of a Revolution, which is available from Regnery. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.