The city of Sacramento is feeling the effect of soaring health costs – like residents losing their health insurance and busier Emergency Rooms.
Challenger Kevin Johnson says cities need to be more proactive about health reform.
“Everyone talks about universal health care where the government foots the whole bill I’m not sure we’re going to be able to get there, but I do think as a city there are some ways that we can look at it locally to make sure that were increasing those who are insured.”
For example Johnson says he’d like to study San Francisco’s model that gives all low-income residents coverage to see if it could work here. The plan uses federal, state and local dollars – including fees on business for funding.
Mayor Heather Fargo says it’s a good concept but wouldn’t work.
“Within this region that we have, if we were to make that requirement what we would see is some companies leaving the city to locate in other cities just right next door, so I think it needs to be broader than just the city of Sacramento.”
Both Fargo and Johnson say rising obesity rates and the number of uninsured are their top health issues. Fargo says to get people healthier it takes a change in the city’s layout.
“So, one of the things that we have done in the city of Sacramento and that I want to keep doing is to make sure that we have a walkable city and a city which is bike friendly as well.”
Kevin Johnson says if he’s elected he’d look at a collective approach to getting people to shed pounds.
“Mayors in other cities right now are doing something where they challenge the whole community to lose weight. So they did a citywide initiative I think it was in Oklahoma City to lose weight which had a lot of fanfare and a lot of people participated in it.”
And, both candidates say they’d push for better school nutrition and programs to get kids exercising more.
Sacramento County runs the health department but both candidates say as the top city official they would take a stronger role in advocating for a healthier city.