City Attorney Herrera continues to defend the legal validity of key aspects of San Francisco's groundbreaking universal health care program, "Healthy San Francisco."
The Golden Gate Restaurants Association filed suit against the City in 2006, charging that the Employer Spending Requirement of the program's enabling ordinance conflicts with the federal Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA. (Among other things, ERISA establishes national standards for pension and health plans in private industry.)
The City strongly disputes GGRA's contention, arguing that the ordinance is not preempted by ERISA because employers have complete autonomy in deciding how to comply. Far from requiring employers to modify their existing ERISA plans, in fact, employers can meet the requirements of the City's ordinance in a number of different ways: paying for health insurance coverage for their employees; contributing to a health spending account; giving cash reimbursements to employees for health expenses; or making payments to the City and County for employee's enrollment into Healthy San Francisco.
GGRA has petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court for review in the case following the rejection of its petition for rehearing en banc before the full Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
GGRA v. CCSF News Releases & Filings
The following news releases and key documents in the case are listed in reverse-chronological order.
- Read the news release: "Herrera files response with U.S. Supreme Court in defense of 'Healthy San Francisco'; Supplemental brief addresses GGRA's arguments in response to Solicitor General over whether to grant review in case (June 9, 2010)
- Download the PDF of the GGRA v. CCSF U.S. Supreme Court Supplemental Brief presskit (June 9, 2010)
- Read the news release: "Obama Administration urges U.S. Supreme Court to deny challenge to 'Healthy San Francisco'; High court had called for views of Solicitor General last October, postponing decision on whether to grant review in case" (May 28, 2010)
- Download the PDF of the presskit on the U.S. Solicitor General's brief on GGRA v. CCSF (May 28, 2010)
- Read the news release: "U.S. Supreme Court Asks Obama Administration to Weigh In on 'Healthy San Francisco'; High Court calls for views of Solicitor General on popular health reform program that serves nearly 47,000 uninsured San Franciscans" (Oct. 5, 2009)
- Read the news release: "Herrera, Businesses Oppose High Court Review of Key Provision of 'Healthy San Francisco'; Employer spending requirement not preempted by federal law, argue City; Nibbi Bros. Construction; and Zazie, Medjool Restaurants" (Aug. 24, 2009)
- Download the PDF of the GGRA v. CCSF case opposition to U.S. Supreme Court review presskit (Aug. 24, 2009
- Download the PDF of U.S. Supreme Court filing: Joint Response to Application for Order Staying Mandate and Vacating Stay of District Court Judgment (March 27, 2009)
- Read the news release: "Herrera Hails 9th Circuit Decision Upholding Employer Mandate for 'Healthy San Francisco.' Federal Appeals Court Holds That Spending Requirement for Local Universal Health Care Program Is Not Preempted by Federal ERISA" (Sept. 30, 2008)
- Read the news release: "Herrera's Request for Stay in 'Healthy San Francisco' Case Granted by Ninth Circuit, City Can Enforce Employer Fee. Court Concludes City Has 'Strong Likelihood' of Prevailing on Appeal, That Health Care Program Should Proceed to Prevent 'Avoidable Human Suffering'" (Jan. 9, 2008)
- Read the news release: "Herrera to Seek Emergency Stay from Ninth Circuit in Defense of 'Healthy San Francisco' Program. Defense of Universal Health Care Law Seen as National Bellwether for Local Government's Ability to Make Medical Care Accessible, Affordable to Uninsured" (Dec. 26, 2007)
- Read the news release: "Herrera Launches Defense of San Francisco's New Health Care Program. City's Papers Argue that Employer Health Care Spending Requirement is not Preempted by Federal Law" (July 16, 2007)
GGRA Case Time Line
- July 25, 2006: San Francisco Board of Supervisors passes San Francisco Health Care Security Ordinance 10-0 (File No. 051919. Ordinance 218-06).
- Aug. 4, 2006: Mayor Newsom signs ordinance into law.
- Nov. 8, 2006: Golden Gate Restaurant Association sues in U.S. District Court, seeking to invalidate the employer spending requirements of the City's ordinance on federal preemption grounds (that it violates the Employee Retirement Income Security Act, or ERISA)
- March 1, 2007: Local labor unions (San Francisco Central Labor Council, SEIU Local 1021, SEIU United Healthcare Workers-West, and UNITE-HERE! Local 2) move to intervene in case as defendants.
- April 2, 2007: City amends Ordinance to defer implementation of employer provisions until Jan. 1, 2008 for employers with fifty or more employees; and until April 1, 2008 for employers with twenty to forty-nine employees.
- April 5, 2007: U.S. District Court grants unions' motion to intervene.
- July 13, 2007: Parties file cross-motions for summary judgment in case.
- Nov. 2, 2007: U.S. District Court hears oral argument on cross-motions.
- Dec. 26, 2007: U.S. District Court finds for GGRA, holding the employer mandate to be preempted by federal ERISA law
- Dec. 27, 2007: City Attorney Herrera files emergency motion with the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, seeking stay in district court ruling to enable program to take effect on Jan. 1, 2008.
- Jan. 9, 2008: Ninth Circuit grants Herrera's emergency motion, enabling program to go forward with the employer mandate intact.
- Feb. 8, 2008: GGRA files emergency petition with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy seeking immediate reversal of the Ninth Circuit's stay order.
- Feb. 21, 2008: Justice Kennedy denies GGRA's emergency petition without comment.
- Sept. 30, 2008: Ninth Circuit rules in favor of the City, holding that the employer health care spending requirement is not preempted by ERISA
- March 9, 2009: Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denies GGRA's petition for rehearing en banc, over the dissent of eight judges.
- March 17, 2009: GGRA files emergency petition with U.S. Supreme Court Justice Kennedy seeking immediate stay of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals' final ruling on the merits. Justice Kennedy again denies the application.
- June 6, 2009: GGRA files petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for the high court to review the decision of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals that rejected the challenge the healthcare employer spending requirement
- August 24, 2009: San Francisco and amici curiae submit briefing to the U.S. Supreme Court opposing GGRA's petition for review.
- October 5, 2009: On the first Monday in October, the traditional first day of the U.S. Supreme Court term, the high court calls for the views of the Solicitor General on the case.
- May 28, 2010: U.S. Solicitor General files brief with the Supreme Court urging that GGRA's petition be denied.
- June 9, 2010: Herrera files supplemental brief addressing GGRA's arguments in response to Solicitor General over whether to grant review in case.
- June 28, 2010: Decision expected by the last day of the Supreme Court term on whether to grant review in case.