San Francisco Healthcare Plan Lands in President's Lap

President Barack Obama asked for opinion on legality of employer mandate that pays for program

By Jackson West
|  Tuesday, Oct 6, 2009  |  Updated 3:15 PM PDT
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San Francisco Healthcare Plan Lands in President's Lap

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Supporters of President Barack Obama hopes he turns around the previous administration's decision to oppose employer mandates to pay for healthcare.

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The Supreme Court is asking President Barack Obama to offer his opinion on whether San Francisco can require employers to offer health insurance or pay for a public program.

A lawsuit was brought by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association, who appealed an early decision by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals that the employer mandate was perfectly legal.

The GGRA argues that the city law is in violation of a federal law that claims jurisdiction over employee benefits.

The program has proven popular, with 45,000 uninsured San Franciscans signed up for low-cost medical care. And while the GGRA says members support the goal of better coverage, they would rather see it paid for through a sales tax or as part of a uniform federal program.

President Obama has lauded the effort and San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, who seizes every opportunity to take credit for the idea.

However, for San Francisco Supervisor and current Assemlyman Tom Ammiano was the person behind the employer mandate, without which the city couldn't afford to offer Healthy San Francisco.

City Attorney Dennis Herrera and his office have been leading the charge against the GGRA in court, with trips to DC to lobby for the program.

So now the buck surcharge imposed by some restauranteurs has stopped on the president's desk, and well get to see if Obama is willing to put his political capital where his mouth is.

Jackson West should be signed up by this week, just in time to probably lose it thanks to politics.

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