San Francisco businesses will be forced to continue funding The City’s universal health care program after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a legal challenge to a key provision of the system.
Healthy San Francisco was created in 2006 with the intention of providing health benefits to thousands of uninsured residents. It currently provides insurance to more than 53,000 San Franciscans by either mandating coverage or having employers pay into the system by various means.
The Golden Gate Restaurant Association sued San Francisco in 2006, arguing that The City and county could not legally require an employer to pay for employee health benefits.
The high court, however, denied review to the legal challenge.
“We’re surprised they did not take the case at this time,” said Kevin Westlye, executive director of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.
The decision by the court puts to an end the 4-year-old legal battle that would have “gutted” the program, according to the City Attorney’s Office.
“The high court’s decision today ensures we can continue providing health care coverage to thousands who would otherwise go without care,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said.
Dan Scherotter, owner of Palio d’Asti in downtown San Francisco, said he is disheartened by the Supreme Court’s decision.
“The real confusion is going to be in 2014 when the national health care kicks in,” Scherotter said. “The fact we will have to meet both mandates will be pretty onerous and not good for The City’s future of its largest employer — restaurants.”