Law Requiring City Contractors to Offer Employees Health Coverage Clears Final Hurdle
San Francisco's "landmark" law that requires individuals and businesses that contract with the city to offer employees health coverage "cleared its final hurdle" yesterday as the San Francisco Health Commission unanimously approved the minimum benefits that the coverage must include, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. The law, approved by the Board of Supervisors last month, applies to all not-for-profit employers with more than 50 employees and for-profit businesses with more than 20 workers. Under the new law, known as the Health Care Accountability Act, all city contractors and leaseholders must cover 100% of the premium costs for at least one of the health plans they offer to their employees. In addition, the ordinance caps co-pays for outpatient services at $10 and requires that employees be granted coverage within 30 days of starting their new jobs. The health plans must cover services in 16 areas, including physician office visits, perinatal/maternity care, prescription drugs, mental health counseling, physical therapy and hospice care.
The Bay Area Organizing Committee, a coalition of religious and labor groups, has fought for the law's enactment as part of a "battle" to obtain health coverage for "low-wage workers," the Chronicle reports. But businesses oppose the law, calling it is costly and burdensome. Before the health commission voted yesterday, Nathan Nayman, executive director of the Committee on Jobs, said, "You are now demanding employers offer insurance to part-time workers, and the proposed regulations provide that these workers will not be required to share in the premium costs. You are in fact creating a two-tiered health insurance program that is nothing short of discriminatory ... [with] an elite group of employees who will not have to pay premiums as do their colleagues" (Sullivan, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/20).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.