07/23/2012 01:41 am ET Updated Sep 21, 2012

'Healthy SF' Surcharges Slammed By Civil Grand Jury

This article comes to us courtesy of the San Francisco Public Press.

By Barbara Grady

San Francisco's civil grand jury on Thursday chastised many of the city's restaurants for profiting from surcharges they add to customers' bills under the name of paying for health care and recommended that the city ban the practice.

In its report the civil grand jury recommended that restaurants no longer be allowed to add health care surcharges or be allowed to offer health reimbursement accounts as a way to comply with a city law requiring businesses to help workers with health care expenses. The San Francisco Public Press reported on this problem last November as part of a team report on the city's universal care program, Healthy San Francisco.

In a summary of its investigation into compliance with the Health Care Security Ordinance, the civil grand jury said most of the restaurants adding surcharges made money off those charges. The ordinance requires most San Francisco businesses and nonprofit employers to spend some money on health coverage for employees.

"The Jury found that a growing segment of restaurant establishments are profiting from the practice of adding a surcharge to the bill of every customer," the report said. "These same employers are legally able to reclaim funds intended for employee health care thus increasing their profits even more. This blatant capture of funds is at the expense of their employees, and their customers who believe they are paying surcharges for healthcare."

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