Campos wins veto-proof support for closing the city healthcare coverage loophole UPDATED

Sup. David Campos is finally closing the healthcare coverage loophole after being thwarted years ago by David Chiu and Ed Lee

Sup. David Campos appears to have finally succeeded in his years-long quest to prevent San Francisco employers from pocketing money the city requires them to use for employee health care costs after winning over two key supervisors to secure a veto-proof majority at today’s [Tues/10] Board of Supervisors meeting.

His reform legislation on today’s agenda will be amended by Campos, he told us, to win the support of Sups. Mark Farrell and London Breed. The changes phase out the loophole over three years, making 60 percent of the money in employee health savings accounts off limits to employers next year, 80 percent the following year, and not letting employers reclaim any of these funds by 2017.

“Even if we don’t get to 100 percent right away, once you get past 50 percent it’s a done deal, so I feel good about it,” Campos told us, explaining that even the phased-in legislation will immediately discourage employers from using health savings accounts and to instead put that money toward private insurance or city-run programs such as Healthy San Francisco.

The veto-proof majority is key given that Mayor Ed Lee vetoed similar legislation in 2011, later signing a watered down compromise measure by Board of Supervisors President David Chiu that required employers to maintain the funds for two years before taking them back.

Campos said that reform clearly didn’t work, with that total funding left over in the health savings accounts rising from about $60 million two years ago to about $90 million now. That outcome was predicted by Campos at the time, noting that employers had a disincentive to encourage employees to tap the funds.

“It didn’t work. The numbers showed the money still wasn’t being spent, which is what we said would happen,” Campos told us.

Exacerbating the problem was the fact that the federal Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) placed new restrictions on how health savings accounts may be used, fro example banning their use on insurance premiums. Health savings accounts are widely considered far inferior to private insurance at providing quality healthcare, but federal law (ERISA) precluded the city from banning their use by employers to satisfy the city’s health coverage requirement.

Supervisors who haven’t yet committed to supporting Campos’ legislation are Chiu, Scott Wiener, and Katy Tang, but Campos predicted they may sign on now that the measure has a veto-proof majority: “We’re hopeful that with a veto-proof majority, it may be a unanimous vote at the board.”  

UPDATE 6/10: The board unanimously passed the measure on first reading, prompting a sustained standing ovation from the workers and labor advocates who filled the board chambers for the hearing. 


It simply means that somebody else pays for it, and Campos appears not to care who that is as long as it isn't someone he likes.

I've cut my tips from 15% to 11% because the wait staff are effectively getting a compulsory 4% pay rise via this nonsense.

So in the end, whoever pays for this, it isn't me.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 1:04 pm

Insurance is all about socializing risk.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 1:17 pm

indemnifying them against any loss.

Reducing their tips by 4% ensures that they do not get something for nothing

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 1:32 pm

Why stop there? Isn't any tip giving compensated employees something for nothing?

Posted by marcos on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 1:42 pm

But if we know they are getting 4% from us indirectly, then it is entirely reasonable to take that into account when deciding their gratuity.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 1:51 pm

Your argument makes no sense, Guest. Why single out waitresses for your wrath? Do you take a similarly punitive approach to other employees who get employer-provided health insurance? Do you routinely deduct 4 percent from your bills from companies that offer health coverage? If you've ever received health coverage from an employer, do you insist on a 4 percent pay cut so that you aren't getting "something for nothing" (whatever that means)? Are you aware that it is restaurant owners who sometimes decide to tack on a duplicitous "employee helathcare surcharge" to your bill, not the city and not the employees, and even then they have often simply pocketed that money instead of providing healthcare. Your comments reek of bias against working people, particularly restaurant workers who are often women and people of color. If you really believed your own bullshit then you'd man up and go after the people with the power to make these decisions instead of punishing your minimum wage server, tough guy  

Posted by steven on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 2:19 pm

When a regular company has an increase in their costs, they do not externalize their costs by explicitly pushing it out to customers as a separate line item. Either they absorb the cost themselves, if they can. Or they get their employee to pay for it or reduce their pay increases by that amount. Or they raise their prices. Nothing is free.

But in this case, the law apparently allows the employers to externalize their extra cost by inviting the customer to pay for that cost. AFAIK it is not compulsory to pay it and a customer can take 4% off the bill. But in practice it is easier to dock 4% off the tip.

The waiter loses nothing because he loses a 4% tip but he gains that 4% in extra healthcare.

The employer loses nothing because they have outsourced their cost.

Seems to me that nobody loses here.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 2:33 pm

The Golden Gate Restaurant Association, in a fit of pique after losing to Ammiano on Healthy San Francisco, urged its members to put a Healthy SF line item on the tab as an act of protest.

The choice to incorporate that is intentional and it speaks to the values of the GGRA and the firms that choose to add it to the tab.

Posted by marcos on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 5:29 pm

offset that extra cost with a reduced tip.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 5:42 pm

Well you're a jerk for undetipping then.

Posted by The Dude Abides on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 4:24 pm

lose 4% in tips and gain 4% in extra healthcare bennies

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 4:37 pm

It just means you're a cheapskate, actually.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 4:48 pm

It makes no difference at all to anyone.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 4:56 pm

Cheap is as cheap does.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 5:34 pm
Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 5:45 pm

Campos demonstrates that you can be a consensus-builder without selling out your principles.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 10:10 pm

when I cant afford to eat out. Thank heaven for the good markets. I'll eat out on vacation- too expensive here in sweet SF.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 10:58 pm

Well done- the companies gaming the system are done and the rest can transition as we move toward health care for all.

Posted by Guest on Jun. 10, 2014 @ 11:08 pm

Propaganda for a Campos mail piece. Why doesn't the BG just shut down and become a poltical ad firm and compete with Jim Stearns for what's left of the lefty campaign racket cash?

Posted by Guest on Jun. 11, 2014 @ 1:39 am

What was omitted was blame for the poorly written legislation that we have been forced to live with. Unfortunately, with the fools (including Campos) that occupy the Board Chambers, we are continually seeing these "victories" which is nothing more than chest-pumping for the electorate.

Posted by Richmondman on Jun. 11, 2014 @ 8:07 am

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