Home   Google ARCHIVE SEARCH: Date:


Photo(s) by Luke Thomas

Hale and Hearty: The Mayor's Health Care Proposal

By Jordanna Thigpen

June 23, 2006

Recently Mayor Newsom and Supervisor Ammiano proposed a comprehensive Health Access Program to eliminate the problem of the uninsured San Franciscan. This plan has evolved from an initial proposal by Supervisor Ammiano, to a task force jointly convened by Mayor Newsom and Supervisor Ammiano to examine the issue, to its current incarnation to an almost-completed proposal to drastically change the debate about health care in this country.

The Mayor's leadership in this regard has been the most important force. The Mayor is willing to ask how we can break new ground on the single most important issue for our generation(s), and ask "What is our highest duty?" That question has framed the proposal.

All details of the plan have essentially been solved, with the exception of a $38m gap.

The business community is being asked to fill that gap, specifically by way of a fee imposed on businesses with 20 or more employees. The 20-employee threshold would apply regardless of the full or part time status of employees.

While there are other problems with the plan as it applies to the business community, this feature of the plan is the single most problematic. It would effectively destroy the City's part-time job market. Many part-time jobs would be eliminated, as employers scramble to get below the 20-employee threshold.

Some argue that now everyone will be working full-time, instead of part-time. However, some individuals can't work full-time - because of high school, college, graduate school, disability, or family responsibilities.

Like a lot of kids, I put myself through college working two part-time jobs at a time in the restaurant business, and I know several people in San Francisco who are doing the same. Thousands of those jobs would be eliminated.

The plan would particularly hurt the City's treasured restaurant industry. The higher minimum wage is a good thing for employees and for the City, but it hit a lot of restaurants particularly hard, especially in the absence of a tip exemption as other governments included in similar measures.

San Francisco businesses already struggle under the weight of the highest fees anywhere in the State. A year-old study demonstrated that San Francisco's revenues from fees and permits is $342.9m to San Jose's $199.8m. Taxes and fees comprise 1/3 of a cup of coffee, or 64 cents.

$38m sounds extraordinary. But the City can close the gap on its own, and does not need to ask the business community for yet another fee contribution, especially one which, like the payroll tax, will discourage employment. Perhaps we can add another $100 to the city's business registration fee. This could raise at least $8m - and the other $30m can come from existing revenue sources.

This year's budget can also include a set-aside for a consultant to work with the Treasurer's and the Controller's offices to provide a comprehensive analysis of the City's business community, large and small. This analysis can form the basis for future discussions regarding the business community.

It's what we would do, as business owners - gather information, and then make an informed decision.

A hearing on the joint proposal will occur on Monday, June 26 at 8 AM in the Board of Supervisors' Chambers. What role will the business community play in our shared future? What role will you play in shaping the dialogue?

District 6 resident Jordanna Thigpen is an attorney, small business owner and President of the San Francisco Small Business Commission. You can usually find her at work and she doesn't get to Ocean Beach often enough. Email Jordanna at jgthigpen@gmail.com.




The Hunger Site

Cooking Classes
in Buenos Aires

Buenos Aires B&B

Calitri in southern Italy

L' Aquila in Abruzzo

Health Insurance Quotes


Bruce Brugmann's


Civic Center

Dan Noyes

Greg Dewar

Griper Blade


Malik Looper






MetroWize Urban Guide

Michael Moore

N Judah Chronicles


Robert Solis

SF Bay Guardian





SFWillie's Blog



Sweet Melissa