Supreme Court Asks Obama's Opinion On San Francisco's Health Care Law

"The U.S. Supreme Court delayed action Monday on employer fees in San Francisco's groundbreaking health care program and instead sought advice from the Obama administration, even as the president struggles to overhaul health coverage nationwide," The San Francisco Chronicle reports. So far, the administration "has been noticeably quiet during the legal fight over San Francisco's program -- one touted by some experts as a potential model for the nation. The Bush administration had urged two federal courts to overturn the city law, which requires companies with more than 20 employees to provide health insurance benefits or pay fees that cover the employees' health care at city hospitals and clinics. The question of whether employers should be required to provide health insurance or pay into a public pot is a central dispute in the national debate." Both the House and Senate bills on national health care reform contain such provisions.

"The Golden Gate Restaurant Association sued over the city program, which started in 2007 and now covers 45,000 people -- or about three-quarters of the city's uninsured residents. Across the city, most restaurants have coped with the new requirement by adding surcharges to diners' bills. The association argues that the city is regulating workplace benefits in violation of a 1974 law, which gives the federal government exclusive control over employee benefit plans" (Egelko, 10/6).

Dow Jones Newswires/The Wall Street Journal: "San Francisco officials said they were facing a health-care crisis and were well within their rights to enact a law to address that crisis. The city said nothing in federal law immunized businesses from being required to spend money on health care. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and an association of retailers are among those urging the high court to strike down the San Francisco law" (Kendall, 10/5).

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