Business group opposes City bid
to provide health care protection
By Julia Cheever
December 31, 2007
A restaurant owners' group urged a federal appeals court today
to reject the city of San Francisco's emergency appeal for reinstatement
of a key element of its pioneering health plan.
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association said in a brief submitted
to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals this morning that it
would be "contrary to the public interest" to grant
the emergency appeal.
The city has asked the appeals court to stay a ruling in which
a federal trial judge last week struck down a mandate that employers
must contribute financially to the city's universal health care
The employer spending mandate had been scheduled to go into effect
City Attorney Dennis Herrera in an appeal filed Thursday said
that "critically necessary health care services" for
tens of thousands of uninsured San Franciscans were at stake.
Deputy City Attorney Vince Chhabria said that three appeals court
judges are expected to consider the appeal this afternoon and
that the panel may issue a ruling later today. (*)
If the court does not grant the emergency stay, the city could
still proceed with a normal appeal, with a hearing on the case
as soon as May or June.
The city's program, enacted last year, is intended to provide
health care for the estimated 73,000 uninsured residents. It would
be paid for with a combination of city and employer spending.
The employer mandate would require businesses with 20 or more
workers to contribute either by financing their own health plan
or by paying a set amount per worker to a city fund.
The city has already implemented the plan for about 7,400 people
with the use of government funding and is due to begin expanding
the plan on Wednesday.
City health officials have said that if the employer spending
is not reinstated, the expansion will be limited to people with
incomes of no more than three times the federal poverty level,
or about 47,000 people within two years.
The restaurant group argued in its brief today that an immediate
stay would "create a patchwork of local regulation and impose
serious ongoing administrative and financial hardships for employers."
The businesses contended that instead of creating a possible
"on-again, off-again" situation, it would be better
to leave the lower court ruling in place until the appeals court
rules on the full appeal in five or six months.
* Update, 3:00 p.m: A federal appeals court in San Francisco
will not issue a decision today on the city's emergency appeal
for reinstatement of a key element of its "Healthy San Francisco"
universal health care plan, the San Francisco city attorney's
office has reported.
Oral arguments on the city's motion for an emergency stay of
a challenge to the plan's requirement that employers contribute
financially will likely be heard before a 9th U.S. Circuit Court
of Appeals panel on Wednesday or Thursday, according to the city
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