The gavel has fallen.
Today a United States federal judge has struck down a basic component of the ambitious San Francisco health care plan. The court ruled that employers cannot legally be forced to subsidize the plan. Lisa Leff of the Associated Press brings us the details:
U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White ruled Wednesday that the mandate, set to take effect on Jan. 1, would violate a 1974 federal law requiring consistency in the health coverage afforded employees who work for the same company but live in different jurisdictions.Healthy San Francisco, as the plan is called, was developed to provide access to health care for the city's poorest. The goal is to give 82,000 people access to clinics and medical services no matter what their employment or immigration status is. At this point 6,500 people are signed up for the program which began last July.
"By mandating employee health benefit structures and administration, those requirements interfere with preserving employer autonomy over whether and how to provide employee health coverage, and ensuring uniform national regulation of such coverage," White wrote.
The ruling came in a lawsuit brought by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which argued that the mandatory contributions the city sought placed a costly burden on members already struggling to make a profit.
The estimated financial outlay for the plan is $200 million per year. To offset the expense city officials passed a law stating that:
Companies with 20 or more workers to spend at least $1.17 per hour toward each employee's health care. Those with more than 100 workers would have to pay $1.76 per hour up to a monthly maximum of $180 per worker.
Whichever way the appeal goes, this is going to be a very important case to watch for all of us who are concerned with the path of universal health care in the United States.
SOURCE: "Part of S.F. Health Care Plan Tossed Out" 12/27/07
photo courtesy of Brymo