On Monday, the U.S. Supreme Court asked the Obama administration to weigh in before it decides whether to hear a case challenging Healthy San Francisco's provision requiring all employers to contribute to workers' health care coverage, the San Francisco Chronicle reports (Egelko, San Francisco Chronicle, 10/6).
Healthy San Francisco aims to provide health care access for all city residents by requiring city employers with 20 or more workers to:
- Contribute to employee health care spending accounts;
- Pay into the city's fund for Healthy San Francisco; or
- Provide health insurance benefits (California Healthline, 8/25).
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association's lawsuit alleges that Healthy San Francisco's employer mandate violates a 1974 law giving the federal government exclusive control over employee benefit plans.
Last year, a federal appeals court rejected GGRA's argument and ruled that the city does not regulate benefits because it lets employers decide how to provide health coverage.
In March, the Supreme Court denied GGRA's request for an emergency order to block the employer fees.
Calling on Obama
The Supreme Court frequently asks the federal government to state its position on important cases, particularly those involving a potential conflict between federal and local regulations, the Chronicle reports.
Such requests typically indicate that at least one justice is undecided about whether to grant the case a review.
President Obama has praised Healthy San Francisco and also has expressed support for health care reform plans that leverage employer contributions.
However, the Obama administration has yet to issue a formal stance on the legal proceedings surrounding San Francisco's program (San Francisco Chronicle, 10/6).