San Mateo County Studies Options To Expand Coverage
A panel in San Mateo County is considering funding options, including mandated employer contributions for health care, for its plan to extend health coverage to about 40,000 more residents, MediaNews/Oakland Tribune reports.
The county could generate $50 million annually if it adopted a system similar to San Francisco's universal health access plan, which requires employers to spend a minimum amount per employee, according to Ken Jacobs, chair of the UC-Berkeley Center for Labor Research and Education. To approve the employer mandate, the county would have to form a joint powers authority and have all of its cities approve the plan, Jacobs said.
Other options to fund the extended coverage plan include a sales tax, payroll tax and employer mitigation fee. The taxes would require a two-thirds vote from the electorate for approval, and the mitigation fee likely would require authorization from the state Legislature, MediaNews/Tribune reports.
The county already has secured $7.5 million annually for three years to help fund the coverage expansion, which some analysts project will cost $100 million annually.
A county task force on health care is meeting on Dec. 13 to hear the results of a survey on local employers' willingness to participate in the coverage program (Oremus, MediaNews/Oakland Tribune, 11/1).