Healthy San Francisco Program Violates ERISA

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The National Business Group on Health and the ERISA Industry Committee on Monday said that they have filed a "friend-of-the-court" brief in a lawsuit challenging the legality of the Healthy San Francisco program, CQ HealthBeat reports (CQ HealthBeat, 11/3).

The program was approved in 2006 to provide the city's uninsured residents with access to health care services at city clinics and public hospitals. The program requires private companies with at least 20 employees and not-for-profit groups with at least 50 employees to provide health care benefits to workers at a cost that meets minimum spending levels or to help cover the cost of Healthy San Francisco.

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Employers represented by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association filed a lawsuit against the city claiming that the program violated the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, which pre-empts certain state and local government requirements regarding employer-sponsored benefits. However, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals last month ruled that the program can continue because it does not violate federal law (Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, 10/1).

Mark Ugoretz, president of the ERISA Industry Committee, said it is "not a question of if, but when and where" the ordinance will be overturned. "We are hopeful that the entire 9th Circuit Court of Appeals will decide upon an immediate review," he said (CQ HealthBeat, 11/3).

Reprinted with permission from kaisernetwork.org. You can view the entire Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, search the archives, and sign up for email delivery at kaisernetwork.org/email . The Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report is published for kaisernetwork.org, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. © 2007 Advisory Board Company and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.

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