San Francisco court upholds universal health care plan

Earlier this week, federal judges ruled to uphold a health care ordinance giving San Francisco the right to make employers help pay part of the cost of the city’s universal health care plan.

“City officials and labor unions said the ruling establishes San Francisco as a model for state and local health coverage in the absence of a nationwide universal health plan,” according to the SFGate.

The city’s plan, called Healthy San Francisco, is the first of its kind in the nation and “could set the stage for a test of the supremacy of a longstanding federal labor law.”

Healthy San Francisco will help the city provide care for an estimated 73,000 uninsured residents, about 30,000 residents have already signed up.

Under the plan, companies with more than 20 employees that do not offer insurance to their workers must contribute $1.17 to $1.76 per employee per hour for health care.

Employers may choose to pay the money in a number of ways, including health care savings accounts, employer-provided insurance, employee reimbursement or contributing directly to Healthy San Francisco.

From The New York Times:

Mayor Gavin Newsom, a former restaurateur, said that his administration recognized that some extra expense was falling on businesses but that he was proud the city was a trailblazer.

“By thinking outside the box,” he said, “every city and state in this country can provide health care if they are willing to challenge the conventional wisdom.”

Some of San Francisco’s well-known restaurants have added small fees to bills, often with a note explaining that the charge goes to pay for health care.

Mr. Scherotter, who runs an Italian restaurant, adds such a fee. He said the law had added to his costs and his administrative workload. “It’s a lot of tedious arithmetic,” he said.


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