San Francisco Businesses Join Health Plan Ahead of Deadline
More than 730 businesses have now signed up for San Francisco's universal health care access plan, the San Francisco Chronicle reports. A city ordinance requires employers to spend a minimum amount on health care, either in coverage for their workers or in payments to the city through the Healthy San Francisco program.
Businesses with between 20 and 49 employees had to meet the minimum spending requirement for health care by Wednesday, while employers with 50 or more workers had to meet the minimum spending requirement in January.
More than half of the 12,900 employees from these businesses qualify for coverage through Healthy San Francisco, and the rest are eligible for health care reimbursement accounts.
To qualify for Healthy San Francisco, adult residents must be uninsured, ineligible for Medicare or Medi-Cal, and have incomes that do not exceed 300% of the federal poverty level. The city plans to eliminate the income cap but has not yet set a date, the Chronicle reports.
Employment status, immigration status and pre-existing medical conditions are not factors in determining who is allowed coverage.
The program assigns each resident to a primary care facility and provides them with access to urgent, emergency and mental health care, as well as substance abuse services, radiology, pharmaceuticals and other services in the city.
The program is expected to cost about $200 million annually, and businesses have contributed about $6 million to the program so far, according to the Department of Public Health.
San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom (D) said, "There are still businesses that are not participating, and we want to get them to participate."
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association is leading the opposition to the employer spending requirements, arguing in a lawsuit that the provision of the law violates a federal law dealing with regulation of employee benefits.
Arguments were heard in the case last month, and a decision is pending (Buchanan, San Francisco Chronicle, 5/2).