Businesses Pose Challenge to Employer Mandates
The "key difference" between San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom's (D) universal health access plan and other "failed health reforms" is that the plan focuses on access rather than insurance, according to a Time.com online exclusive (Locke, Time.com, 6/23).
Newsom's plan would expand health care access to the city's 82,000 uninsured residents at a cost of about $200 million annually. According to the plan, the city would contribute $104 million, businesses would voluntarily contribute $38 million and the remainder would come from member premiums and other sources (California Healthline, 6/27).
The 15% of local businesses that do not provide health insurance to workers and oppose a mandate that requires them to likely will pose the biggest problem to the program (Time.com, 6/23). The San Francisco Board of Supervisors will hold a second hearing on the mandate next week (California Healthline, 6/27).
Steve Falk, president of the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, said if a requirement is approved, it likely will be challenged in court because the "mandate will fall on the companies that have the least ability to pay" (Time.com, 6/23).
In related news, a San Francisco Examiner editorial and an opinion piece by San Francisco Supervisor Chris Daly address the city budget. Summaries appear below.
- San Francisco officials "have known for years that the combination of a growing city workforce, rising health care costs and the increasing numbers of retired employees was an issue that would have to be dealt with sooner or later," a San Francisco Examiner editorial states. But a recently released controller's study "makes it clear that there is no more time to wait," according to the editorial. There "seem to be no alternatives on the horizon" but to "scale back the current benefits of city workers," a change that will "present a challenge for the mayor," the editorial states (San Francisco Examiner, 6/28).
- Newsom "never directly confronted San Francisco's glaring inequities" when he unveiled the city's 2006-2007 budget proposal, according to an opinion piece by Daly, chair of the board's Finance and Budget Committee. "This year, we can do much more for San Francisco's most vulnerable" by allotting $25 million of the proposed $5.7 billion budget "in ways that reflect more compassionate priorities," Daly writes, adding, "Now is the time to direct city resources" to "working families, seniors, immigrants and people living with HIV/AIDS" (Daly, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/28).