Justices Stay Out of SF Health Law Controversy

June 28, 2010 (PLANSPONSOR.com) – Justices on the U.S. Supreme Court have turned away a request to review a federal appellate court ruling backing a long-disputed health care spending law by the city of San Francisco. 

The high court made the move without comment that effectively lets stand the decision by the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the matter of the San Francisco statute requiring companies with 100 workers or more to spend $1.96 per hour per covered employee on health coverage. Smaller companies with 20 to 99 workers have to pay $1.31 an hour.  

Originally, the fight over the law centered on whether it was legally pre-empted by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which was designed to provide national uniformity in workplace benefit plans. 

A friend of the court brief filed in 2010 by Acting Justice Department Solicitor General Neal Kumar Katyal, however, admitted that the Obama Administration was rethinking the Bush Administration’s position that the San Francisco law did run afoul of ERISA.  

The government brief said the recently passed federal health reform law cuts back on the possibility other local governments will follow San Francisco’s lead.  The high court’s review of the case was not necessary at the current time, the government asserted (see Administration Urges High Court to Leave SF Health Law Ruling Alone ) .