Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Flash: 9th Cir. Overturns San Francisco ERISA Preemption Decision

California Count me surprised (and 3-0 to boot!) and look definitely for en banc review (via San Francisco Chronicle):

The city of San Francisco won approval from a federal appeals court today to begin providing health coverage to all uninsured adult residents under a new ordinance and require employers to share the cost.

A three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals granted the city's request to suspend a federal judge's Dec. 26 ruling striking down a key funding provision of the ordinance. That provision requires large and medium-size companies to offer insurance to their workers or pay a fee to the city.

The appeals court said the city was likely to prove that U.S. District Judge Jeffrey White was wrong when he ruled that local governments lack the power to force employers to contribute to a health care program. Today's decision allows the city to enforce the entire ordinance while it appeals White's decision.

I like the result because it will help give health insurance to the uninsured, but I think from my initial analysis that the decision is flawed.  A mandate is a mandate is a mandate and such mandates, under ERISA preemption precedent, cause a significant impact on the management and administration of employment benefit plans, even if not solely on employee benefit plans.

This is clearly not the last we have heard of this case.

The decision is Golden Gate Restaurant Assoc.v. City and County of San Francisco, 07-17370 (9th Cir. Jan. 9, 2008). Also note the panel: GOODWIN, REINHARDT, and W. FLETCHER - a pretty liberal bench.

Hat Tip: Ben Arnoldy


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» The Ninth Circuit on the San Francisco Health Insurance Mandate Ordinance from Boston ERISA Law Blog
Workplace Prof has the story here of a three judge panel out of the Ninth Circuit staying the district court ruling that the San Francisco ordinance mandating the provision of health insurance by employers was preempted, and provides a link... [Read More]

Tracked on Jan 10, 2008 7:12:43 AM


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