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Closing the Loophole: A Case Study of Organizing for More Equitable and Affordable Access to Health Care in San Francisco

  • Author(s): Fang, S
  • Minkler, M
  • Ivey, SL
  • Ly, LT
  • Lee, EJM
  • et al.
Abstract

© 2018, © 2018 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC. This paper presents in-depth case study of a successful hybrid political and community organizing campaign to ensure equitable access to health care through the perspective of a grassroots San Francisco community-based organization, the Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), which has been organizing low-income Chinese immigrants for over four decades. First, it outlines the Health Care Security Ordinance (HCSO), which, since its passage in 2006, has established a near-universal health care access program, helping to make health care accessible and affordable to individuals living and working in San Francisco. Then it presents the campaign to save the HCSO, focusing on CPA’s participation in the HCSO coalition. Finally, it discusses health care as it relates to the San Francisco’s affordability crisis and the political economic context in which it is taking place. Despite the limitations inherent in small case studies like this one, it nevertheless provides a valuable opportunity to better understand how one politically progressive city attempted to address the problem of grossly inequitable health care access through the lens of community organizing, advocacy, and coalition building. San Francisco, like many major American cities today, is being confronted with rapid gentrification and growing economic inequality—the backdrop to the HCSO. Through innovative experiments in social responsibility like the HCSO, however, the city has made leaps in health care access. It concludes with lessons learned from local organizing and advocacy to save the HCSO as these may inform other local efforts to promote health care for all.

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