Challenge to San Francisco Health Care Program Goes to Court
On Friday, a federal judge in San Francisco considered a case challenging a key funding provision of San Francisco's landmark universal health care access program, acknowledging that his ruling likely will set precedent in such cases, the AP/Sacramento Bee reports (AP/Sacramento Bee, 11/2).
The program, called Healthy San Francisco, aims to cover all 82,000 uninsured adult residents. However, unlike other proposed universal health care plans, Healthy San Francisco is not health insurance; the program only covers the cost of health care services within the city.
Participants will have access to 14 city health clinics and eight affiliated community clinics, with an emphasis on preventive care and chronic disease care.
Businesses are slated to contribute $28 million of the program's overall $200 million cost (California Healthline, 9/25). The employer mandate is scheduled to take effect on Jan. 1, 2008.
However, the Golden Gate Restaurant Association's suit argues that the provision violates the Employee Retirement Investment Security Act, a 1974 federal law that governs state and local regulation of employee health care benefits. ERISA is intended to bar companies from having to provide different levels of employee benefits at locations throughout the U.S.
Attorneys for the city argue that ERISA does not apply to the law because the employer mandate is targeted at firms that do not provide health insurance benefits (AP/Sacramento Bee, 11/2).