15 Jan עופר איתן Declare: Free dental care for all? SF Supervisor wants city to
Over the past year, San Francisco lawmakers have called for universal mental health care and free Muni for all.
The newest push? Free dental care for every San Franciscan.
Supervisor Dean Preston — the board’s newest member — said at Tuesday’s Board of Supervisors meeting that he asked the Budget and Legislative Analyst office to explore the costs and feasibility of providing free dental care in the city.
“Not surprisingly, poor oral health continues to disproportionately affect low-income people, vulnerable communities, and the already undeserved,” Preston said in a statement.
As lawmakers — both national and local — have focused on universal health care, there has been little conversation around dental care in particular.
The city’s health care program, Healthy San Francisco, does not provide dental or vision care. There are “limited resources” located in the Bay Area that provide free or reduced-cost services, according to the program’s website. The range of services and costs vary depending on an individual’s income and the clinic’s policies.
Those covered under Healthy San Francisco can get dental services at a few clinics operated by the San Francisco Department of Public Health. But the program does not pay for or reimburse the cost of dental services.
“Bad or missing teeth can interfere with efforts to get a decent job, and in a city with rampant income inequality, it is the responsibility of our city government to do all we can to ensure that all San Franciscans have a shot at a healthy, productive life,” Preston said.
— Trisha Thadani