KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Supreme Court Will Not Review San Francisco Health Plan

The U.S. Supreme Court will not review a challenge to San Francisco's health plan brought by city businesses.

"The justices on Monday denied an appeal from the Golden Gate Restaurant Association of an appeals court ruling upholding the program's requirement that employers help pay the bill or give their workers health coverage," The Associated Press reports. The decision allows the program to maintain its emphasis on sharing the financial responsibility for health care - a cost borne by the public, employers and employees, said Tangerine Brigham, director of Healthy San Francisco. … Kevin Westlye, executive director of the restaurant association, said his group has no disagreement with Healthy San Francisco, but questioned whether employers should have to pay for what they consider an overpriced mandate" (Barbassa, 6/28).

San Francisco Chronicle: "The plan was approved unanimously by the Board of Supervisors in July 2006 and took effect Jan. 1, 2008. It requires businesses with 20 or more employees to either provide a certain level of health care for their workers or pay a set amount into a city health care pool for every hour that uncovered employee worked. … Healthy San Francisco now enrolls about 53,000 of the estimated 60,000 uninsured adults in the city. With each participant provided a personal physician, their costly emergency room visits at San Francisco General Hospital dropped 27 percent between the first and second year the program was in operation."

The new federal health law could ensure coverage for many of those people, but it "will not include undocumented workers and others covered by the San Francisco program, [so] the city intends to keep operating Healthy San Francisco, forcing businesses to deal with paperwork for two separate health programs" (Wildermuth, 6/29).

The Examiner: "'The high court's decision today ensures we can continue providing health care coverage to thousands who would otherwise go without care,' Mayor Gavin Newsom said. Dan Scherotter, owner of Palio d'Asti in downtown San Francisco, said he is disheartened by the Supreme Court's decision. 'The real confusion is going to be in 2014 when the national health care kicks in,' Scherotter said. 'The fact we will have to meet both mandates will be pretty onerous and not good for The City's future of its largest employer - restaurants'" (Sherbert, 6/29).

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