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Court Stays Injunction |Of San Fran Health Plan

SAN FRANCISCO (CN) - The 9th Circuit has allowed San Francisco to continue a city program requiring businesses to partly pay for health care for uninsured workers and residents until a lawsuit challenge the program is resolved.

The program, nicknamed Healthy San Francisco, requires companies with at least 20 workers and nonprofits with at least 50 employees to provide health coverage or pay a fee directly to the city. Businesses must also keep accurate and accessible records of their health-care spending.

The district court enjoined the city in late 2007 from enforcing provisions of the program that had been challenged by the Golden Gate Restaurant Association.

The powerful lobby claimed the program is pre-empted by the federal Employment Retirement Income Security Act.

The circuit court stressed that the program only requires employers "to make certain levels of health-care payments to an ERISA plan or to some other entity, including the city. It does not require companies to provide certain health-care benefits, through an ERISA plan or otherwise."

It granted the city's request to stay the injunction, ruling that the city has shown a "strong likelihood" of winning, and "public interest supports granting a stay." See ruling.

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