19 January 2008

San Franciscans covered for now

USA Today's headline reads "Businesses fight plans to ensure health care" -- the worst possible head for advancing health care.

That's because the polls show that small business is the key icon for Americans, held in higher esteem even than moms and apple pie. If small business is against it, so is America.

But consider this. It's true that a couple San Francisco businesses sued so they wouldn't have to pay more for health insurance for their employees -- and a lower court agreed with them, that the Employees Retirement Insurance Security Act forbade the state to require employers to insure their employees. But there's always going to be some businesses against minimum wage, health insurance, child labor laws, whatever.
At issue in the restaurant association's lawsuit is a 1974 federal law, the Employee Retirement Income and Security Act. It bars states from requiring employers to offer health insurance or regulating the benefits they do offer to protect companies from varying laws. Congress gave only one state, Hawaii, an exemption from the law in 1975. It is the only state that requires employers to provide health insurance.

Last week, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said business owners such as Scherotter will have to comply with the law, at least until the full court can review the lawsuit later this year. A lower court sided with business owners.
More important were the poll last year that showed that California businesses are in favor of universal health care:"Despite High Cost, Small Business Says It Supports Universal Health Care -- 80 Percent Say Employees Deserve Health Coverage" from the San Diego Business Journal:
About 500 small businesses across the state were randomly surveyed by phone and e-mail; many were in support of a 1 cent sales tax solution, while favor for a single-payer system was split, with the majority of business owners who don’t provide health care voting for the single-payer system, according to survey results.
Another article, this one from the Sacramento Bee covered that same poll. Some key findings:
  • 57% regard health care financing as a shared responsibility among individuals, employers and government – three times as many as do not (19%).
  • 55% were in favor of paying into a statewide pool that would enable their employees to obtain coverage at favorable rates – over three times greater than those opposed (17%).
  • A substantial plurality (near-majority) said that they favored two leading California healthcare reform proposals, with a small plurality supporting a single-payer plan:
  • Governor’s proposal -- 47% in favor; 31% opposed
  • AB 8 (legislative leaders’ proposal) -- 47% in favor; 33% opposed
  • SB 840 (single-payer) -- 42% in favor; 40% opposed

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