Health cuts fall short of mandate 

The City is proposing to close down its trauma recovery center and cut HIV counseling and prevention programs as part of a plan to shave $105 million from San Francisco’s public health budget.

The Health Commission met Tuesday to discuss the pending reductions to the Department of Public Health budget, which includes roughly $27 million in reductions — including a $12 million hit to behavioral health services.

Mayor Gavin Newsom asked the commission to reduce its $344 million general-fund budget by 40 percent to help The City close a $483 million shortfall. However, the budget plan doesn’t meet that goal. The commission will vote on the budget plan May 18.

While the cuts are devastating, the budget problems will only get worse in the next two years, said Greg Sass, chief financial officer for the Department of Public Health. The spending plan includes millions of dollars in anticipated revenue from the state and federal government, but that money is not guaranteed, Sass said.

“While many of these things are concerning, we were not able to get all the way to our target reductions without some service reductions,” Sass told commissioners. “We feel that we managed to do a large portion of this without impacting service.”

Other proposed cuts include limiting mental health services to treat the most-serious cases and outsource hospital security, which would save more than $4 million, Sass said.

The proposed budget isn’t as bad as anticipated, Commissioner James M. Illig said.

“We have some serious service cuts on the list, but it could be much worse and it could get much worse if any of these one-time funds don’t come through or if the Mayor’s Office demands we come up with another $32 million to meet our target,” Illig said.

The mayor has until June 1 to submit a balanced budget to the Board of Supervisors.

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