On Tuesday, the San Francisco Board of Supervisors delayed voting on Supervisor Campos’ amendment to close the healthcare loophole to Tuesday, August 2nd.
During the meeting, the board met in closed session with the city attorney to discuss the details of the proposal. Supervisor David Chiu introduced three amendments that do not appear to improve Campos’ proposal, and are likely to create greater problems if adopted.
The first amendment would require San Francisco employers to provide full health coverage (medical, dental and vision) even though this is explicitly prohibited by federal law. ERISA, the Employee Income Retirement Security Act, prohibits city or state governments to define what medical coverage should or should not covered by an employer. While the sentiment may be noble, it ignores the work that has been done to craft Healthy San Francisco into a program that helps San Franciscans while abiding by federal law. If this amendment were to pass it could potentially jeopardize San Francisco Healthcare ordinance.
Secondly, Chiu proposed an amendment which provides that end of year balances in HRA accounts can roll over for one year. However this does nothing but set a different timeline by which employers can regain access to money that is supposed to be spent on employees’ health care, giving them incentive to place restrictions on the accounts. It also takes away workers’ ability to save their limited health care dollars (there is a $2000 cap on these accounts) in case of medical emergencies or expensive health care needs, which we know can greatly exceed a few thousand dollars.
Thirdly, Chiu proposed an amendment that would entitle employers to 50% of the balance of HRAs when a worker’s employment is terminated. Again, this provides incentives for employers to limit access to funds so that they can take back and pocket a share of dollars that the law currently requires be set aside for health care.
Though Chiu has been quoted calling the Campos proposal “flawed”, his own proposals threaten to both worsen the situation for workers trying to access health care to which they are legally entitled, and could potentially put the entire program in jeopardy.
We encourage advocates to support the Campos Amendment, and to contact your Supervisors and ask for their support. Public Support for Campos’ efforts can also be expressed at the Board of Supervisors Meeting August 2nd, beginning at 2:00pm.