High Court Seeks Administration Views on San Francisco Healthcare Case

October 5, 2009
The U.S. Supreme Court today invited the Obama administration to weigh in on a case involving San Francisco's universal health care program. The case, Golden Gate Restaurant Association v. San Francisco, involves a challenge to a key provision of San Francisco's "Healthy San Francisco" law, which requires employers to provide minimum spending on their workers' healthcare insurance. The San Francisco law was challenged by the restaurant association in federal court, arguing that the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) preempts San Francisco from requiring employers to invest in their employee healthcare benefits. The Bush administration got involved in the case lodging briefs supporting the restaurant association's position. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit ruled in favor of the San Francisco law concluding that it was not preempted by ERISA. The restaurant association has asked the Supreme Court to hear the case.

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis J. Herrera issued a statement (above, right) on the high court's action today, urging the Obama administration to take different approach to the case.

"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," said Herrera, a member of the ACS Board of Directors. "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."