Kennedy Turns Down Stay Request on SF Health Initiative Challenge

March 31, 2009 ( - U.S. Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy has turned down a request to issue an emergency stay of the controversial San Francisco program requiring employers to help pay for health coverage of the uninsured.

A San Francisco Chronicle news report said the Golden Gate Restaurant Association had asked Kennedy to put the program on hold while the high court considers the group’s challenge to the city’s health care coverage initiative.

The newspaper said the 800-member group argues that the mandatory employer fee conflicts with the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) and will hurt businesses already battered by the economy.

Under the city law, a business must provide private health care for its employees, set up health reimbursement accounts, or pay a fee to defray the city’s costs of providing care. The program requires employers with 20 to 99 workers to pay $1.23 per hour worked, and companies with more than 100 employees must pay $1.85 an hour.

In September, the 9 th  U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said San Francisco was exercising its legal authority to protect its residents’ welfare and was not regulating employee benefit plans (see 9th Circuit Lets Stand San Francisco Health Care Ruling ).