The group of labor leaders, health care professionals and business advocates who will help determine the future of San Francisco's landmark health care law and implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act has come into focus with 42 people invited to serve on the task force.
As implementation of the federal law begins in January, business leaders have taken aim at the existing Healthy San Francisco program and its spending mandate for employers.
The conflict is reminiscent of the battle that erupted when the local law was being debated in the mid-2000s. Amid similar tensions, then-Mayor Gavin Newsom established the Universal Healthcare Council to help shape HealthySF.
Taking a page from that book, Mayor Ed Lee announced in July a plan to establish a task force. The decision came amid an uptick in complaints by business leaders that the current version of HealthySF cannot exist in conjunction with the Affordable Care Act.
The task force was expected to begin meeting in August, but that won't happen. However, 42 participants have been asked to participate.
Twice-monthly meetings are expected to begin in September, with final recommendations issued in December, said Colleen Chawla, deputy director of the Public Health Department. The meetings will be open to the public, she said.
The head of the health department, Barbara Garcia, will serve as co-chair, along with Dignity Health President Lloyd Dean.
Other members include Rob Black, leader of the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, which previously lost a lawsuit against The City to strike down HealthySF; Ken Jacobs, a UC Berkeley labor specialist; Fred Naranjo, president of Scarborough Insurance Agency; Tim Paulson, executive director of the San Francisco Labor Council; Roxanne Sanchez, president of Service Employees International Union Local 1021; and Brenda Yee, CEO of the Chinese Hospital.
Under the local law, most employers must make contributions to health care expenses for their employees, such as providing actual health insurance or choosing The City's option. The latter helps fund HealthySF.
The program is a network of community clinics, hospitals and health department services, with an annual budget of about $130 million. Of that, $14 million comes from employer contributions.
HealthySF currently serves about 60,000 residents.