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Group to ask Supreme Court to review S.F. health spending law


SAN FRANCISCO—A San Francisco-area restaurant trade association intends to file a petition next week with the U.S. Supreme Court asking it to review a 2008 federal appeals court decision upholding the legality of San Francisco’s health care spending law.

Golden Gate Restaurant Assn. Executive Director Kevin Westlye said the petition likely will be submitted Monday or Tuesday.

This year, employers in San Francisco with at least 100 employees must make health care expenditures of $1.85 per hour for every eligible employee working at least eight hours per week, and those with between 20 and 99 employees must pay $1.23 per hour. Employers with fewer than 20 employees are exempt from the spending mandate.

Expenditures can include payment of group health insurance premiums, contributions to health savings accounts and health reimbursement arrangements, or payments to the city.

The outcome of the litigation is important not just to employers in San Francisco. The case also is being watched by employers nationwide who fear if the San Francisco law—which went into effect in January 2008—is upheld, it would open the floodgates to a wave of new health care spending laws by other cities and states looking for ways to expand coverage at no or little cost to themselves.

Benefit experts say that would result in higher health care and administrative costs for employers as they try to keep on top of new benefit mandate after benefit mandate, as well as making it impossible for multistate employers to offer uniform health care benefit plans.

The Supreme Court will decide whether to take up the case during its next term, which begins in October.