Chamber of Commerce asks Mayor to form small business task force
on health coverage
From the San Francisco Chamber of Commerce
November 23, 2005, 10:00 a.m.
San Francisco's business community -- lead by the Chamber of
Commerce - today questioned Supervisor Tom Ammiano's proposed
health care legislation, saying the measure was developed with
little input from small businesses and no input from the business
community at large and that it fails to take into account complex
issues of availability and affordability.
The measure would eventually require San Francisco employers
with 20 or more employees to pay a fee to provide health coverage
to their employees. The money is then used to pay directly for
insurance or to reimburse employees for health care costs. The
amount of the fee has not been set but would be set by the Board
of Supervisors. The legislation first calls for a task force made
up of seven members appointed by the Board of Supervisors to study
the amount of the fee for health care, as well as an additional
fee to pay for the administration of the new law.
"The Chamber is a strong advocate for finding a way to extend
coverage to San Francisco's uninsured workers, which is why we
have been working for the past six months with the City, health
care providers, major insurers and with businesses large and small
to make health care both more accessible and more affordable,"
says Steve Falk, Chamber president & CEO.
"While we applaud Supervisor Ammiano's interest in extending
health insurance to San Francisco's uninsured workers," says
Falk, "we also understand the issue is complex and has as
much to do with cost of care, encouraging workers to take advantage
of programs that employers currently offer and availability of
coverage to smaller businesses. Forcing employers to cover their
employees may be the wrong approach. Mandates like this do little
to address the problems of the uninsured because they provide
a strong disincentive for businesses to create jobs."
"We would like to see a more inclusive process that draws
on the expertise of the Small Business Commission, as well as
a broad cross-section of community and business leaders to find
a solution," Falk adds. "We encourage Mayor Newsom to
intervene and establish a broader task force to study this issue
and recommend workable solutions.
Small business leaders also questioned the timing of the legislation
and the lack of input from what is arguably one of San Francisco's
most important interest groups - businesses with 20 or more employees.
"This is simply outrageous," says David Heller, president
of the Geary Boulevard Merchants Association. "The supervisor
could have called all parties to the table to craft a solution
that we could all live with; sneaking this in right before people
leave for the holidays is devious and underhanded."
Before the legislation and its fees are implemented, San Francisco
business owners are demanding a thorough economic analysis of
the legislation, says Heller. Voter-approved Proposition I requires
the city to study proposed legislation and report on the likely
impact on the local economy, including an analysis of the likely
impact of the legislation on the city's ability to attract and
retain businesses and jobs.
A recent study by the Employment Policies Institute shows that
those employees most likely to be harmed by mandated employer
health care coverage are uneducated, minorities and single parents.
The study also finds that among the uninsured, those with the
lowest skills are earning the lowest wages and are disproportionately
likely to lose their jobs as a result of a health insurance coverage
mandate. These are the very groups that supporters of mandated
healthcare often cite in support of their efforts.
For more information, contact Lisbet Sunshine, Chamber of Commerce
Director of Public Policy, at 415-352-8844 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.