For all the handwringing on whether health reform would violates ERISA federal law, there’s another positive signal today in this AP article:
The U.S. Supreme Court says a San Francisco program that provides health care to the uninsured can continue while a lawsuit challenging the initiative is pending.
Without comment, Justice Anthony Kennedy on Thursday refused a request by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association to halt the program while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals considers its legality.
The appeals court earlier ruled that city officials could implement the program, dubbed Healthy San Francisco.
The first-in-the-nation initiative requires companies with at least 20 workers to provide health coverage or pay the city a fee to help offset the program’s estimated $200 million price tag.
Let’s remember, the lower court struck down the minimum employer contribution part of the Healthy San Francisco plan, due to concerns about ERISA.
But then the city not only appealed, but also sued to stay the decision–and the Ninth Circuit agreed, saying that the appeal had a strong likelihood to succeed.
For the Supreme Court to implicitly agree-is a positive sign. For this silent agreement to come from Justice Kennedy–the main swing vote on the Supreme Court–it is even a better sign.
There’s no slam dunk on any of this, but for those who are *so* sure that ERISA prohibits any health reform at the state or local level, we have one really important Supreme Court Justice thinking it’s not unreasonable for San Francisco to go ahead with their reforms…