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Prop F receives pushback from SF health care providers

Medical professionals and service providers gathered at a podium to oppose Prop F
Wren Farrell
Medical professionals and service providers gathered at a podium to oppose Prop F

On Thursday morning, at San Francisco’s LGBT Center, a small group of healthcare workers spoke out against Prop F.

“San Francisco is in the midst of an unprecedented loss of life to overdose.” 

This is Laura Thomas, she’s the senior director of HIV and Harm Reduction Policy at the San Francisco AIDS Foundation. She’s opposed to the proposition on the ballot this March.

But, San Francisco Mayor London Breed began gathering support for it last year.

“It should not be more convenient for a person to get access to drugs than to get access to treatment.”

If it passes, Prop F could require drug screenings and treatment for SF residents who receive cash and other benefits from the “County Adult Assistance Programs” or CAAP. That’s a program for low-income San Franciscans with no dependents.

Joe Arellano is the spokesperson for Mayor Breed’s Yes on F campaign. He says Prop F is one of many ways the city is trying to fight the fentanyl crisis.

“2023 was the deadliest year on record for overdoses in San Francisco. And so from our perspective, anything that can really help get folks into treatment as much as possible, whether it's buprenorphine, you know, inpatient, outpatient.”

But the people gathered at Thursday morning’s press conference say that Prop F will just worsen the crisis. Here’s SF AIDS Foundation’s Laura Thomas again.

“We know and the data is clear, that reducing benefits and resources increases overdose fatalities.” 

Thomas says San Francisco already has an “excellent” overdose prevention plan, but that the city should be implementing it more.

“We need to stop pretending like we don't know what works. We do know what works. We're not doing it, we're not doing enough of it. And instead, we're facing initiatives like Prop F that will go in the wrong direction.”

There are still a lot of questions about how Prop F would work. But, if it passes, it won’t be as simple as just drug testing everyone who receives CAAP benefits. Again, Joe Arellano.

“There's actually no urine test or drug test that's conducted.”

Instead, when service providers meet with a new or existing CAAP recipient, the provider would have to assess whether or not the person has a substance use disorder. If it’s determined that they do, and they refuse treatment, the individual would lose their benefits.

Prop F will be up to the voters in March.

Wren Farrell (he/him) is a writer, producer and journalist living in San Francisco.