Restaurant group: ‘You can’t mandate health benefits’

Lawyers representing San Francisco’s restaurant owners will file a legal motion today charging that The City’s new universal health care ordinance violates federal law by forcing San Francisco businesses to spend money on health care for all employees.

Representatives for the Golden Gate Restaurant Association say the San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA, a federal law that regulates the management of employee benefits.

A state or local law cannot preempt the federal law, said Kevin Westlye, president of the association.

“You can’t mandate health benefits, you can’t mandate the administration of benefits,” Westlye said.

The City Attorney’s Office is also required to file its legal paperwork today in defense of the ordinance. The restaurant group’s filing today lays the groundwork for an Aug. 31 hearing for the previously filed lawsuit.

Thedeputy city attorney working on the case, Vince Chhabria, said ERISA prohibits state and local municipalities from dictating the structure of a company’s health plan, but it doesn’t prevent The City from requiring business owners to pay a minimum amount, per employee, for health coverage.

The City began implementing the Healthy San Francisco plan last week by enrolling a limited number of patients. A full enrollment is scheduled for January.

Mayor Gavin Newsom said the mandated spending — requiring all employers with 20 workers or more to invest $1.17 to $1.85 for each employee hour worked for health care — was necessary in order to prevent businesses from looking at The City’s new universal health program as an opportunity to stop providing health benefits to employees.

beslinger@examiner.com

Bay Area NewsLocal

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Treasure Island hungry for food delivery options

Apps don’t serve neighborhood’s residents

Gov. Gavin Newsom said he ‘owns’ coronavirus testing lapses, announces task force

Gov. Gavin Newsom said California will significantly increase COVID-19 testing capabilities, adding… Continue reading

Constructive Criticism: Tenants, it’s time to get organized

The scanty relief politicians have offered shows we can’t rely on legislation to solve our problems

SF police issue first citation for violating stay at home order to abortion protester

Ronald Konopaski, 86, cited outside Planned Parenthood for allegedly failing to shelter in place

Pier 39 aquarium staff furloughed — but what about the fish?

Aquarium of the Bay raising funds from public to keep up operations during shutdown

Most Read