The path for states and localities to reform health care is clearer now, given yesterday’s decision by the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
The court upheld the Healthy San Francisco program, particularly the requirement for set a minimum contribution by employers toward their worker’s health coverage. The program allows employers to meet that requirement by offering private coverage, or by paying into a new, affordable public health plan option that would provide access to San Francisco health services.
This is big news for the city, and for the tens of thousands of San Franciscans who get coerage through Healthy San Francisco, or who have gotten or kept private coverage due to the law.
But this is even bigger news for the states. For years, many have said that states can’t do health reform because of the federal ERISA law, which preempts state regulation of worker benefits. But this decision shows what a state can do without violating the constraints of ERISA.
Whether it was AB x1 1 in 2007, SB2 in 2003, or other health reform proposals in California, the possibility is there. Coincidentally, the Assembly Health Committee, chaired by Assemblyman Dave Jones, is having a hearing this afternoon about how to move ahead with state health reform. They have new possibility today.