Obama to decide Healthy San Francisco’s fate?

Pub date October 5, 2009
SectionPolitics Blog

By Steven T. Jones

The US Supreme Court has delayed a decision on the Golden Gate Restaurant Association’s legal challenge to the Healthy San Francisco program, instead asking for the Obama Administration’s opinion on whether the required employer contributions that fund the universal health care plan violate federal law.

The GGRA suit contends the employer mandate violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), a view that was supported by the Bush Administration but opposed by the city and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, whose ruling against GGRA the Supreme Court is deciding whether to hear, a decision that had been expected today. President Barack Obama has publicly cited Healthy San Francisco as a model for health care reform and City Attorney Dennis Herrera has personally lobbied the administration to reverse the previous administration’s position, and now the court wants a formal opinion from Obama’s Solicitor General Elena Kagan.

“The Bush Labor Department’s position was not simply wrong as a matter of law, it was wrong for fundamentally ignoring the urgent need for health care reform,” Herrera said in a public statement. “I am hopeful that the new administration will not take such a knee-jerk position, but will instead thoroughly review the legal and policy implications of the case.”