San Francisco health insurance fight could head to Supreme Court

An ongoing battle between the city of San Francisco and restaurant owners over health insurance coverage could be headed for the U.S. Supreme Court. The city requires employers to offer health insurance to their employees. San Francisco's restaurant lobby has fought the ordinance, claiming that adds an unfair burden to businesses in the hospitality industry.

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association (GGRA) has lost a number of appeals to reverse the city's mandate. However, even in these cases, the dissenting opinions have helped fuel the Restaurant Association's determination to persist in its fight.

"If our decision in this [9th Circuit] case remains good law, similar laws will become commonplace, and the congressional goal of national uniformity in the area of employer-provided health care will be thoroughly undermined, with significant adverse consequences to employers and employees alike," Judge Milan D. Smith Jr. wrote.

Using Smith's opinion to anchor an individual appeal to Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy, GGRA has filed an emergency appeal asking him to block the 9th Circuit ruling. If Kennedy denies the request, the restaurant association says it will petition the full court.

"There is no real reform here. We have a problem that needs to be addressed on a national basis" rather than through a maze of differing local laws, said GGRA Executive Director Kevin Westlye.

To learn more:
- see the AMA News story