On Tuesday, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (D) signed into law a measure to adjust the city's universal health care program, the San Francisco Chronicle reports.
The new law affects employers participating in the city's Health Care Security Ordinance under the Healthy San Francisco program (Gordon, San Francisco Chronicle, 11/23).
Employers participating in the program must spend a certain amount of money on health coverage for each hour employees work. About 860 employers in the city set aside funds in health reimbursement accounts. Employers can recoup any funds that are not used within a year.
In 2010, businesses contributed $62.5 million to the health reimbursement accounts. Employees used $12.4 million of those funds, and employers recovered the rest.
Last week, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors granted preliminary approval to an amendment -- co-sponsored by David Chiu, the board's president, and Supervisor Malia Cohen -- to adjust the regulations governing how businesses recoup workers' unused health care funds (California Healthline, 11/16).
The board passed the legislation on Tuesday in a 6-5 vote, and Lee immediately signed it.
Details of New Law
The new law requires employers to keep two years' worth of health benefit contributions available for their employees. Each year, employers will have to contribute up to $4,252 for a full-time employee (Sabatini, San Francisco Examiner, 11/22).
In addition, the measure makes it illegal for restaurants to place employee health care surcharges on customers' bills unless those funds are put toward workers' health benefits.
Lee said, "This is a major change in the ordinance that will make it easier for workers to access health services."
Supervisor David Campos, who had proposed an alternative amendment that Lee vetoed, said that the approved measure does not go far enough and that he might seek to place the issue before voters next year (San Francisco Chronicle, 11/23).