RUSH: This is from the Los Angeles Times: ‘Forget the driver’s license and credit cards. The most important piece of plastic in Cheng Wang’s wallet is his new medical identification card featuring a picture of a heart and this city’s signature skyline. Wang, who has diabetes and other ailments, says the Healthy San Francisco program saved his life. When he immigrated here in May to be closer to his elderly mother, the 64-year-old Taiwan native brought enough pills to last seven months. When those ran out, he didn’t know what to do. He had no medical insurance. And it scared him. Then he learned about a groundbreaking city health plan that provides a network of care to residents regardless of their ability to pay, immigration status or existing medical conditions. Wang, a proud man with oversized glasses, said it’s important to him that the program is not purely a handout. It’s a bona fide medical plan offering care free of charge to those who can’t pay and on a sliding scale to those who can afford to contribute to their care. When he finds work, he’ll pay, he said. ‘It’s precious,’ said the retired printer, holding out his card. ‘It gives me peace of mind.’
‘The city’s initiative is a first-of-its-kind local solution to what has become a pressing issue nationwide: how to provide the poor and middle class with affordable health care. Americans spend more than $2 trillion a year on health care — nearly a fifth of the national economy, according to federal statistics. Still, more than 60 million people remain uninsured or under-insured.’ Oh, now, so we’ve gone from 47 million ‘uninsured’ to 60 million uninsured and ‘underinsured.’ So this is universal health care, folks. San Francisco’s found the way to do it. It’s another way that the Democrats are going to give everyone an American ID so that they can vote. That’s what this is about. He’s got his medical identification card featuring a picture of a heart and a city signature skyline. (interruption) Well, because, it’s free… Mr. Snerdley says, ‘How is ‘free’ not a handout?’ Because when you can pay, you are expected to donate to your health care. But when you can’t pay, it’s free. So if health care is all you care about, you really don’t need to get a job.
The whole thing is a handout. I know. The whole thing… Well, it’s a fine point, Mr. Snerdley, because, you know, Cheng Wang, obviously the story here, is portraying him as an honorable, upstanding — well, not citizen, but guy. If he intends to pay, it’s not a handout. See, you’re missing the point of intentions. You want to look at people and you want to see reprobates. (laughter) The citizens of San Francisco are paying for this guy’s health care. He’s not. The citizens of San Francisco are, and it gives him peace of mind. When I saw this, I thought, you know, one of the things that we’ve been able to secure here at the EIB Network is the Snerdley family. Every call screener since this program’s inception in 1988 has been a Snerdley, and we had one named Cheng Wang. We did. We had Melba, we had Mario, and we had Cheng Wang, Cheng Wang Snerdley, and he would be about 64 years old now.
RUSH: Also, Cheng Wang, San Francisco, feel confident he’s a solid guy. As soon as he scrounges up the $2,300 necessary to donate to Hillary’s campaign, he’ll probably start paying for his health care, at least partially, in San Francisco.
RUSH: I checked the e-mail during the break. Many, many people are really fried over this San Francisco health care story, so let me dig deeper further into it and tell you how it actually works. Just to refresh your memory. It’s the story of ‘The most important piece of plastic in Cheng Wang’s wallet is his new medical identification card featuring a picture of a heart and this city’s signature skyline.’ He came from Taiwan. He has diabetes. When he left Taiwan he grabbed ‘enough pills to last seven months.’ He gets off the boat in San Francisco or the airplane, and after seven months, runs out of pills. ‘He had no medical insurance. And it scared him. Then he learned about a groundbreaking city health plan that provides a network of care to residents regardless of their ability to pay, immigration status or existing medical conditions. Wang, a proud man with oversized glasses, said it’s important to him that the program is not purely a handout. It’s a bona fide medical plan offering care free of charge to those who can’t pay and on a sliding scale to those who can afford to contribute to their care.’ So I wonder what would happen, let’s say I had diabetes, and let’s say I wanted to go to Taiwan, or Hong Kong, or Shanghai.
I go visit the ChiComs and I didn’t have any money and when I got there seven months later my diabetes pills run out, you wonder if I walk into some building in Hong Kong and say, ‘Hey, you know, I got diabetes, and I’m outta pills. You got a program for people like me?’ ‘Yeah,’ and they’d grab a pistol. ‘You want a pill?’ and then aim the pistol at my head. Now, here is how the program works.
‘Officials stress that their universal health care plan is not insurance. The program does not travel with members, who are only covered for visits to participating clinics and the public hospital in San Francisco. It also does not cover dental or eye care. Those below the federal poverty level of $10,210 in annual income for a single person and $20,650 for a family of four pay no fees. Starting next month, the plan will be open to individuals with incomes up to 500 percent of the poverty level.’ This is S-CHIP on steroids. ‘Quarterly fees on the sliding scale range from $60 to $675. Co-payments for those who don’t qualify for free care range from $10 to $20 for clinic visits and $200 to $350 for a hospital stay. The goal of Healthy San Francisco is simple: Get involved earlier in preventive care for city residents before chronic illnesses become serious enough to require hospital care at the county’s expense. ‘Our system didn’t serve the population,’ said program director Tangerine Brigham.’ Yes, you heard me correctly: Somebody actually named their daughter after a fruit. ”It was easy for people to do episodic care or seek no care at all. ‘The idea was, ‘Well, if I don’t have my own Marcus Welby, I might wait for trauma care.’ We’re trying to give everyone their own Marcus Welby,’ Brigham added, referring to the fictional family doctor in a 1970s television drama.’ It’s universal health care, whether you could pay for it or not. They get a card, a little ID card, and, who knows? You may be able to vote after that, which is what this is really all about, my friends.