Healthy Compromises

Pub date July 12, 2006
SectionPolitics Blog

Sup. Tom Ammiano and Mayor Gavin Newsom took another step today towards making health care accessible to all uninsured San Franciscans.
The San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance, which Ammiano and Newsom announced their joint support for July 11, offers access to comprehensive medical services, while requiring that medium and large business meet minimum spending requirement on employees’ health care.
While the agreement is optimsitic, it wasn’t reached without compromise on the employer spending mandate.
From July ’07, when the ordinance would become law, until Jan. 2008, employers will have to provide healthcare for employees who work 12 hours or more. That requirement tightens to 10 and then 8 hours, in Jan. ’08 and Jan.’09, respectively.
Meanwhile, medium sized businesses, (20-50 employees) have until March 31 2007, to start making mandatory payments, (which amounts to about a $1 an hour per worker.
Other tweaks: employers won’t have to make health insurance payments, if their employee has coverage elsewhere (through a parent, a spouse, or presumably another job), but the employee decides who pays.
Of all three compromises, the 12-10-8 compromise spells the greatest danger for the local labor pol (what if stores cut workers’ hours to 11 each per week?)
A special Budget and Finance Committee meeting is set for Monday July 17 at 1pm, and the full Board will discuss it July 18, with a final vote expected on July 25.
With Sups. Sean Elsbernd and Michela Alioto-Pier continue to stand on the sidelines? Will Mayor Gavin Newson step inside the county supes’ chambersn? and How many signatures does the business community need to get a referendum on this matter launched by August 9? Stay tuned.