San Francisco panel expected to meet for first time on blending Healthy SF, Affordable Care Act 

click to enlarge A panel will reconcile HealthySF with the Affordable Care Act. - JOE RAEDLE/GETTY IMAGES
  • Joe Raedle/Getty Images
  • A panel will reconcile HealthySF with the Affordable Care Act.

The group tasked with determining the future of The City's landmark Healthy San Francisco ordinance begins meeting today.

Mayor Ed Lee is expected to provide opening remarks to the 42-member Universal Healthcare Council, which is led by Department of Public Health Director Barbara Garcia.

The mayor has been pressured by business leaders such as the Chamber of Commerce and the Golden Gate Restaurant Association to lift requirements of Healthy SF as the federal Affordable Care Act goes into effect Jan. 1.

As the health care landscape is expected to dramatically change, the council is charged with recommending how the local law requirements can best dovetail with the federal mandates.

The 2007 Healthy SF ordinance requires businesses of 20 or more employees to spend a certain amount on employee health care per hour worked — $1.55 for businesses of 20 to 99 employees and $2.33 for companies of 100 or more workers. There are several ways to comply, such as providing actual health insurance, establishing health reimbursement accounts per worker or choosing the city option, which funds the Healthy SF network of medical services provided by the health department and community clinics.

Employee contributions funnel about $14 million into the Healthy SF network, which has a total annual budget of $130 million. About 60,000 people are served by the network.

Under the Affordable Care Act, two-thirds of the 60,000 participants would be eligible for some kind of insurance, while 19,500 would be ineligible largely because they are undocumented immigrants, city health officials said.

Today's council is similar to the one that convened in 2006 to help form the Healthy SF ordinance.

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