It’s election season! Time to connect with your civic pride, dig deep into the issues that affect our community, and decide how you’ll vote on a bunch of interesting propositions and ballot measures.
Getting lost in all the election information? We’re here to help. Here are the propositions San Francisco AIDS Foundation has an opinion about, and what we think about how they’ll impact the health of our community.
Local Ballot Measures
Yes! Proposition I: Funding for Seniors and Adults with Disabilities (PASSED)
San Francisco AIDS Foundation supports Prop I. If passed, Proposition I will establish something called the “Dignity Fund.” This would guarantee a source of funding for community-based programs and services for seniors and adults with disabilities living in San Francisco (without raising taxes). In addition to benefitting older adults with dementia, veterans, caregivers, and people with chronic conditions, the Dignity Fund would benefit older adults living with HIV and AIDS.
Vince Crisostomo, the Elizabeth Taylor 50-Plus Network manager at San Francisco AIDS Foundation, is an active member of the Dignity Fund Coalition and passionately believes this funding measure will improve the services for people living with HIV and AIDS in San Francisco. It will fund services that help people with pressing issues like isolation, mental health concerns, food insecurity, threat of eviction, and legal concerns. Read the top 10 reasons to vote Yes for the Dignity Fund in this article on BETA by Vince Crisostomo.
Yes! Proposition J (PASSED) & K (DID NOT PASS): Homeless & Housing Services Fund
Proposition K would increase the city’s sales tax by three-quarters of a cent, in order to establish the Homeless Housing and Services Fund. The fund would support programs that prevent homelessness, and help people establish more stable housing through the housing Navigation Centers.
Proposition J would make sure that the money raised by the sales tax from Prop K would go to homeless services (one-third of funds raised) and transportation system improvements (two-thirds of funds raised).
San Francisco nonprofit Community Housing Partnership, which provides housing, case management, health services, and programs for low-income families, supports Proposition J and K. “Propositions J & K address the root causes of homelessness by not only providing housing, but supportive services to address mental health and substance abuse,” said Gail Gilman, CEO of San Francisco Community Housing Partnership.
No. Proposition Q: Prohibiting tents on public sidewalks (PASSED)
Proposition Q doesn’t provide any help to people who are homeless—and in fact, will do more to disrupt the lives of people who don’t have stable housing in our city.
Proposition Q would ban tent encampments and enable police officers or other city officials to take them down with a 24-hour notice. The proposition would require the city to give people who are displaced a temporary shelter bed, but it goes no further to provide shelter or a place for people who are homeless to go. With more than 6,500 people who are homeless, and only 1,200 shelter beds, there’s a clear problem with Prop Q.
“While Prop Q tagline of ‘housing not tents’ may be appealing, voters are bitterly disappointed when they find there is not housing in [Prop Q],” said Jennifer Friedenbach, executive director of San Francisco’s Coalition on Homelessness.
“The measure offers only one night in shelter as shelters have a six-week wait list, and the only beds available in 24 hours are those beds whose occupants missed curfew. This will force others out on the streets as the city must hold those beds empty for potential campers coming after 24 hours. In addition, campers would likely just move down the street when given a 24 hour notice, continuing the status quo of moving campers from block to block. Lastly, this measure feeds the worst anti-homeless sentiments, and this creates not only short-term increased violence against homeless people, but long-term barriers to developing the broad support necessary to end homelessness,” said Friedenbach.
State Ballot Measures
Yes! Proposition 52: Hospital fees provide matching funds for low-income healthcare (PASSED)
Voting Yes on Proposition 52 would ultimately benefit people in California that rely on Medi-Cal (California’s Medicaid health care program, which provides medical services for low-income children and adults). And, it would do so without a cost to taxpayers. Here’s why.
In 2009, hospitals in California agreed to pay a fee so that the state would be eligible to obtain federal matching funds for Medi-Cal. Every year, the state has brought in about $3 billion in additional revenue because of this program. However, some of that money has been going into the state’s general fund instead of to Medi-Cal. This proposition would extend the fee program and require that the money collected through the program go toward Medi-Cal health services, care for people without health insurance, and children’s health care.
The San Francisco Human Services Network, an association of community-based nonprofit agencies that collectively work on public policy initiatives related to health and human services in the city, supports this proposition.
No. Proposition 60: Condoms in Adult Films (DID NOT PASS)
We’ll admit—requiring that condoms be used in the making of adult films sounds appealing at first. But, there are many problems with this proposition that will prevent it from protecting the health of the people who work in adult films. Here are the issues:
Many adult film performers are adamantly opposed to this proposition, for a variety of reasons. (Read more about what adult film performers think about this issue on BETA.) Condoms are not a fail-safe method to prevent HIV and other sexually transmitted infections. And they can cause health issues (see “condom rash” info in the article hyperlinked above) when worn for long periods of time. Although using condoms can be one effective way to prevent HIV and STIs, they are not the only way to prevent HIV. Some performers choose to protect themselves from HIV by using PrEP, a daily pill that provides 92% to 99% reduction in HIV risk when taken as prescribed.
Also, adult film production studios adhere to a rigorous HIV and STI testing schedule with a system called the Performer Screening Services (PASS). This helps ensure that performers complete HIV and STI testing every 14 days, have up-to-date test results on file, are linked to medical providers when treatment is needed, and that medical protocols are followed consistently.
The legislation proposed by this bill would also open up performers and others affiliated with the adult film industry to harassment and lawsuits. Prop 60 specifies that citizens would be able to file lawsuits against producers if they believe condoms weren’t used in the making of a particular film. This process would expose real names, addresses, and other contact information of adult performers—which could be dangerous.
Neutral. Proposition 61: Pricing Standards for State Prescription Drug Purchases (DID NOT PASS)
While the San Francisco AIDS Foundation supports Proposition 61’s stated aim of lowering prescription drug prices by preventing most state health programs from paying more for prescription drugs than that paid by the U.S. Veterans Administration (VA), it is not clear that this proposition will achieve that aim. Supporters of this proposition say that if passed, it would save taxpayers money because federal law provides a price ceiling for drugs the VA purchases based on the drug’s average wholesale price. In theory, having state-funded agencies similarly adhere to these pricing standards would prevent the state from spending outrageous sums on specialty medications (which can include HIV, PrEP and hepatitis C drugs).
Experts who have expressed concerns about this bill say that providing a price cap on drugs purchased by agencies of the state might have unintended side effects. If the measure passes, drug makers could raise the drug prices charged to the VA, or to private insurers and consumers. This would mean that overall, the proposition would not in fact save money.
It’s also possible that the proposition would prevent people from accessing drugs they’re prescribed—for instance in cases when the state isn’t able to negotiate a medication’s price that’s lower than what the VA pays.
Project Inform, an HIV and hepatitis C advocacy organization, said on their website, “we are concerned that the unbelievable complexity of the drug pricing issue does not lend itself either to so simple an approach or one that is best decided at the ballot box.”
Yes! Proposition 64: Marijuana Legalization (PASSED)
Proposition 64 would allow people over the age of 18 in California to have and use marijuana, establish regulatory oversight for its cultivation and sale, and allow it to be a taxable product. The tax collected would then be used for substance use treatment programs and for programs that prevent the transmission of infectious diseases (like HIV and hepatitis C).
“I absolutely believe that legalizing marijuana will benefit the communities that the foundation serves,” said Kristen Marshall, logistics coordinator for Syringe Access Services at San Francisco AIDS Foundation.
San Francisco AIDS Foundation uses a harm reduction approach and philosophy in our work—believing that people live their best and healthiest lives when given the support and resources they need to thrive. We acknowledge that people use illegal substances. We also recognize that criminalizing marijuana oftentimes disproportionately punishes people who are economically disadvantaged, of ethnic or racial minorities, or otherwise are disenfranchised members of our society.
“The communities we serve are no strangers to pain, anxiety, depression, and a ton of other symptoms and ailments that medical marijuana has been proven to treat,” said Marshall. “Anything that helps people live the lives they want, and that allows them to make the choices that are right for them, is a good thing. Drug use should never be a moral issue – it’s a public health issue. Decriminalizing and creating better access to drugs leads to healthier and safer use, folks getting connected and access to more services, and having the basic human right of deciding what works for them, their bodies, and their minds.”
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