San Francisco has long been at the vanguard of smart and innovative public health approaches, as well as policies to support working families, and Scott Wiener works to build on that strong foundation. He fights to ensure that all residents have access to affordable, high-quality healthcare and to paid family leave and affordable child care, including his legislation to provide the most expansive paid parental leave in the nation. Scott stands up for patients to battle rising drug costs, ensure that people living with HIV have access to life-saving treatment, expand access to nutritious food, and fund oral health programs for disadvantaged youth. He also fights against the health impacts of smoking and the rise of type 2 diabetes, obesity, and other impacts related to the consumption of sodas. Scott authored the proposed soda tax as well as legislation to require health warnings on soda ads so people are better informed about the health impacts of these drinks. Scott will continue to do everything he can to protect the health of our communities, no matter what it takes.
Scott fights to expand access to healthcare. When insurance companies began to dramatically increase drug co-pays to Covered California policyholders - thus effectively denying coverage for life-saving drugs, including HIV medication - Scott pushed back hard and was able to make positive change to make drugs more affordable. Scott also successfully advocated for San Francisco to remove a discriminatory exclusion that denied full health coverage for transgender people under the city's universal healthcare program. In the State Senate, Scott will push to ensure people can access their insurance without excessive co-pays and deductibles and will work to increase Medi-Cal reimbursement rates for the one in three low-income California residents who rely on this program for health coverage.
Scott authored first-in-the-country legislation to require fully paid (100% wage replacement) parental leave for new parents after childbirth or adoption, applying to both parents. California pays 55% of a new parent's salary, under the state disability system, for up to six weeks. For many workers, taking a nearly 50% pay cut to bond with a new child isn't economically feasible. In order to end the situation where parents have to choose between bonding with a new child and putting food on the table, Scott's legislation requires the employer to pay the remaining 45% of salary for six weeks. Scott's legislation will make it much easier for new parents to bond with their children. Scott will work in the State Senate to expand access to paid family leave for all Californians.
Access to child care - or lack thereof - is a key determinant of whether families succeed. Scott is committed to increasing access to affordable early childhood education. He is currently exploring what it would take to guarantee access to early childhood education for all families in San Francisco. In the State Senate, Scott will champion expanded child care subsidies and other tools to make sure every family can both work and care for its children.
We have a mental health and substance abuse crisis on the streets of San Francisco, in our city generally, and throughout the country. California dismantled its mental health safety net when it closed its inhumane state hospitals without replacing them with other treatment options. It sometimes seems that to receive mental health treatment, one has to commit a crime and go to jail or be sentenced to a hospital. That's not how it should be. We need to rebuild California's mental health safety net, both for our homeless population and for our population overall. We also need to have robust drug addiction services so that, instead of criminalizing drug use, we are helping people get healthy and into recovery.
As a gay man who came of age during the height of the HIV crisis in the late 1980s - when there was no effective treatment for the virus, Scott understands on a very personal level why we must keep our commitment to those living with the disease and those at risk. Scott leads the charge in City Hall to backfill tens of millions in federal HIV budget cuts - cuts that would destroy San Francisco's HIV safety net. Scott helped craft and is helping implement San Francisco's innovative Getting to Zero strategy, a plan to end new HIV infections, HIV deaths, and HIV-related stigma in San Francisco. Scott recently obtained a significant budget appropriation to advance Getting to Zero. Scott also delivered more than $1 million in resources for the newly opened Castro health center for gay, bisexual, and transgender men, called Strut. In 2014, Scott announced that he uses PrEP (pre-exposure prophylaxis), a once-daily pill that reduces the risk of HIV infection by nearly 100%. Scott made this announcement in order to raise awareness and reduce stigma around this important HIV preventative. In the State Senate, Scott will work very hard to ensure that all Californians living with HIV have access to care and that those at risk for the virus have access to all prevention tools, including PrEP. Scott will take Getting to Zero statewide so we can envision an end to HIV infections throughout California.
Scott believes that good nutrition is fundamental to good health. Scott supports increased budget appropriations for food access for our many residents who are food insecure. No one should go hungry or be forced to eat cheap, unhealthy food that increases the risk of diabetes, obesity, and other health problems. Scott co-authored the soda tax, in order to reduce consumption of sugary drinks and increases resources for nutrition, health, and physical activity programs.
Scott supports policies to reduce smoking and the impacts of second-hand smoke. Scott supports cigarette taxes (Scott's opponent announced that she opposes cigarette taxes) and also supports education and regulation necessary to reduce smoking. Scott authored legislation to raise the tobacco purchase age in San Francisco to 21.
Scott is a leader in the effort to reduce consumption of sugary drinks, which are a prime driver of the explosion of type 2 diabetes and other metabolic diseases, including among adolescents. Scott co-authored the 2014 soda tax in San Francisco and fought the soda industry, which spent $10 million to oppose the measure. (Scott's opponent is against the soda tax.) Despite that spending, 56% of voters voted in favor of the measure. Thereafter, Scott authored first-in-the-world legislation to require health warnings in connection with sugary drinks, specifically, health warnings on ads for these drinks. Scott will work in the State Senate to have a better state policy approach to reducing soda and other sugary drink consumption.
Scott supports universal vaccination of schoolchildren and vocally supported SB 277, which mandated universal vaccination in California. Scott authored a resolution at the Board of Supervisors to put San Francisco officially on record supporting this important public health measure.
Oral health is fundamental to overall health, yet it often receives the short end of the stick, both in terms of insurance coverage and public policy. Scott works with advocates in the Bayview, Mission, and Chinatown to expand oral health access for low-income children, to combat the cavity epidemic we see among children in these communities. The soda tax Scott co-authored would have provided significant funding to increase access to oral healthcare. Scott will work in the State Senate to make sure oral health receives the same priority as other healthcare needs.
Guns are a significant public health problem - in addition to a public safety problem - in our state and country. Guns whose sole purpose is to kill people have no place in our community. We need strong gun control to reduce the number of guns in California, and Scott will support smart and effective gun control efforts in the State Senate.
Scott strongly supports access to medical cannabis, which is key to good healthcare. Scott also supports legalization of adult use of cannabis for people 21 and older. Scott authored legislation to create a blue ribbon panel to make recommendations for local regulatory approaches to legalization of adult use of cannabis, should California voters adopt legalization in November. Scott is also working with the cannabis community and city agencies to update our regulations of medical cannabis, which are outdated.