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New information regarding the San Francisco Organizing Project

December 22, 2009

Prior to the 2009 national Catholic Campaign for Human Development (CCHD) collection,  we outlined troubling activities of the  San Francisco Organizing Project (a national CCHD grantee and PICO affiliate) in two separate reports.  The first report examined SFOP’s support of a major  San Francisco provider of emergency contraception and family planning.  The second report detailed a number of CCHD grantees, including SFOP, which are members of a pro-abortion immigrant mobilization coalition.  The CCHD offered a vague response to these charges against SFOP  in a release entitled “For the Record: The Truth About CCHD Funding:”

…The Archdiocese of San Francisco strongly supports the work of the San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP) to expand access to health care to children. Both Archbishop Levada and Archbishop Niederauer have spoken at SFOP events; SFOP has met regularly with Archdiocesan staff to coordinate work on health care access and other issues that affect the poor and immigrant families. (Source: “For the Record“)

While this response does not address our charges in any substantive way, it does raise new questions.  First, what exactly did SFOP do to expand access to health care in San Francisco?  Second, is the health care reform supported by the SFOP (and presumably by the San Francisco Archdiocese according to the above statement) in line with Catholic moral teaching?  Unfortunately, after extensive research done both by us and other Reform CCHD coalition partners, a disturbing set of answers to these questions has risen to the surface.

SFOP, on its own web-site claims the following as health care victories:

  • Won Healthy Kids program to provide universal healthcare for children regardless of documentation status (2001).
  • Sponsored events that enrolled more than 2,000 children in Healthy Kids.
  • Won Healthy San Francisco – a first-in-the-country program to provide universal healthcare to all 82,000 uninsured San Franciscans. (source: SFOP web-site)

SFOP’s boasting is not empty rhetoric.  They did indeed play an integral role in planning and securing both the Healthy Kids and Healthy San Francisco health care plans.   We will now examine both plans in more detail.

Healthy Kids

SFOP’s involvement in implementing and supporting this program:

♦ Exhibit A:  This report published by the John W. Gardner Center in 2005 states the following about SFOP’s role in implementing Healthy Kids:

By 2000, SFOP had deepened its work to include more systemic projects. Health care became SFOP’s primary citywide focus as it worked to launch the Healthy Kids insurance program and helped to enroll 2,000 children in the program through the San Francisco Health Plan over a two-year period. (Source: John W. Gardner Center SFOP Report pg. 4)

♦ Exhibit B:  The resolution in support of Healthy Kids specifically mentions SFOP’s pivotal role.

Moral problems with the Healthy Kids plan:

♦ Exhibit A:  Healthy Kids covers “family planning” services to children as stated on the San Francisco Health Plan web-site. ♦ Exhibit B:  The “family planning” services provided by Healthy Kids include both contraceptive prescriptions as well as elective abortions.  (sources: Healthy Kids Summary of Benefits, and Healthy Kids Evidence of Coverage Disclosure Form)

♦ Exhibit C:  The California Senate Bill Analysis records opposition from the California Right to Life Committee as follows:

Healthy San Francisco

SFOP’s involvement in implementing and supporting this program:

♦ Exhibit A:  Community Catalyst lists SFOP as a major player in pressing for Healthy San Francisco:

Alongside Supervisor Ammiano, labor unions and community organizations such as Health Access, Senior Action Network, California Women’s Agenda, and the Bay Area Organizing Committee played major roles in the policy development and negotiations and in helping to drive the process forward. The SF Worker Health Coalition collected stories about uninsured workers’ struggle for health care.
The coalition grew to include the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (ACORN), San Francisco Organizing Project (SFOP), the Bay Area Organizing Committee and Health Care for All SF as well as other labor and nonprofit groups. These organizations mobilized their membership and held public events in support of the HCSO. They also worked to secure the support from Newsome, who was being heavily lobbied by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association and other employer groups to oppose the ordinance. (Source: Community Catalyst’s Case Report on Healthy San Francisco)

♦ Exhibit B:  A member of the SFOP was appointed to the Healthy San Francisco Advisory Council to “help guide the development, planning and implementation of Healthy San Francisco. The Advisory Council provides expert consultation on: implementation of employer spending mandate, membership, benefits, provider network, utilization, costs, and evaluation.” (Source: San Francisco Department of Public Health)

Moral problems with Healthy San Francisco:

♦ Exhibit A: Healthy San Francisco covers “family planning” services including emergency contraception.  (Source: Healthy San Francisco brochure, Healthy San Francisco web-site)

♦ Exhibit B: Healthy San Francisco covers elective abortions according to the San Francisco Chronicle.

But some services, such as elective abortions, may not be offered through a public option or by policies that are subsidized by federal funds because of the U.S. government’s ban on paying for such procedures. San Francisco public health officials said elective abortions would continue to be provided through Healthy San Francisco.  (Source: “National plan wouldn’t mean the end of Healthy S.F.,” San Francisco Chronicle, Nov. 23, 2009)

Commentary and Analysis:

Considering the USCCB’s public statements against the current national health reform legislation precisely on the grounds that it would provide government funding of abortion, we are perplexed that the Archdiocese of San Francisco “strongly supports” the work of SFOP in implementing these programs which do provide funding for abortion.  Furthermore, both the California Catholic Conference and Catholic Charities are listed as supporters of the Healthy Kids health plan in the Senate Bill Analysis.  We assume that these Catholic groups did not have full knowledge of what Healthy Kids would cover, though perhaps they would have been better served listening to the lone opposition coming from the California Right to Life Committee rather than organizers from SFOP and PICO.

That being said, perhaps this third report will convince the CCHD and the San Francisco Archdiocese to reconsider granting money collected from Catholics throughout the nation to the San Francisco Organizing Project.  The San Francisco Archdiocese might also consider making clear their position regarding both of the health plans outlined in this report.    Without such action, Catholics may become confused due to the appearance of  disagreement between the USCCB and San Francisco Archdiocese regarding support for health care reform which includes abortion funding.

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