The Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) petitioned the Supreme Court recently to prevent the city of San Francisco from enacting legislation that would require employers to pay a fee to provide health coverage for their workers.
On Monday, the Supreme Court refused a temporary stay on the San Francisco legislation. All businesses in the city with 20 or more employees would have to meet the new requirements.
The law in San Francisco was originally passed in 2006, but has since been held up by a successful court challenge by the GGRA. A federal appeals court decided the law could be enacted temporarily last year, and now the GGRA is appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court for an emergency injunction to prevent the law from going into effect this year.
Similar legislation in New Jersey and Maryland were struck down by other Federal appeals courts, setting up a conflict in the lower courts that usually means the Supreme Court will weigh in.
However, it is also noted that the Court does not like to get involved in current national policy issues, and the Obama administration’s lofty health care goals for this year could prevent the Supreme Court from weighing in on the San Francisco petition.
The $1.17 to $1.76 per hour per employee healthcare fee has been decried by business owners in the Bay Area as putting an undue burden on business. Business owners also claim the law violates a federal act that prevents local government from enacting separate pension and benefit plans from national ones.
San Francisco lawmakers counter that healthcare for the city is a necessary, progressive service that benefits everyone. They also say the hourly fee can be applied in multiple ways, including towards a company’s health premiums, the city’s Healthy San Francisco program, or employee health accounts.
The question of how universal health coverage will affect business in the United States is only now heating up as progressive policies are being considered at all levels of government in the U.S.
Will universal health care wreck business and entrepreneurship? Or will it create a progressive, egalitarian society for the 21st century? Somewhere in between? Weigh in with your opinion below!