A 3-judge panel of the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals says the San Francisco universal health care program does not violate the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act.
The San Francisco program provides health care for the uninsured.
Employers with 20 or more employees have a choice between providing health coverage or by paying cash to the city so that the city can provide care for the employer’s otherwise uninsured employees.
Affected employers with 20 to 99 employees that do not cover all of the employees must pay $1.17 per hour per employee to the city, and affected employers with 100 or more employees that do not cover all of the employees must pay $1.76 per hour per employee to the city.
“We are asked only to decide whether Section 514(a) of ERISA preempts the employer spending requirements of the ordinance,” Circuit Judge William Fletcher writes in an opinion for the 9th Circuit panel on Golden Gate Restaurant Association vs. City and County of San Francisco.
“We hold that it does not. The spending requirements do not establish an ERISA plan; nor do they have an impermissible reference to such plans.”
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, San Francisco, says it probably will appeal the ruling.