San Francisco Board of Supervisors Backs Mayor’s Plan to Cover Uninsured
The San Francisco Board of Supervisors on Monday gave "preliminary approval" to Mayor Willie Brown's (D) "groundbreaking" proposal that would require city contractors and leaseholders to provide health coverage to employees, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. According to the Chronicle, the measure would provide health insurance for about 16,000 of San Francisco's estimated 130,000 uninsured residents. Under the proposal, not-for-profit groups with 50 or more employees and for-profit businesses with 20 or more employees that contract with the city would have to "comply with the law." Agencies and businesses required to participate could choose to provide employees with health insurance, pay the city's Department of Public Health as much as $60 per week to pay to allow employees to join public health programs or join a city-sponsored health insurance pool. In addition, the proposal requires that businesses and not-for-profit organizations provide coverage for employees working an average of 20 hours or more per week in the first year, and employees working 15 or more hours a week in subsequent years.
San Francisco Board of Supervisors President Tom Ammiano said, "Everyone knows there are lower-paid workers working on city contracts who don't have health insurance. We all know that's a travesty," adding, "San Francisco has a political and moral duty to try and address this as best we can." Rev. Peter Sammon of the Bay Area Organizing Committee, a coalition of labor and religious groups that "pushed" for the proposal, said, "This is very responsible legislation. We see people in desperate situations, costing the city thousands of dollars each in health care, (an expense) that could have been saved with a bit of prevention." While representatives of not-for-profit organizations and businesses said that they support the "intent" of the measure, they "complained" that the city "rushed" the plan, which may "put an unfair financial burden on their bottom lines." Still, city officials hope to have the program in place by July 1, when the city begins or renews many contracts and leases. The board of supervisors must offer "final approval" next week before the mayor signs the measure into law (Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/22).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.