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'United To Win'
Health Plan Proposal
Gets Board Hearing
A committee of
the Board of Supervisors has held the first of several expected hearings
on a Taxi Commission proposal for a cab driver health care plan. United
Taxicab Workers has been advocating for the plan since the board set
the wheels in motion to create it in 2003.
At the Rules Committee hearing, which lasted over a hour, Executive
Director Heidi Machen presented the commission’s proposal to committee
members Tom Ammiano, Sean Elsbernd and Aaron Peskin. Ammiano sponsored
the original legislation committing the city to providing a health plan
The recommendations would cover an estimated 4,000 cab drivers at a
cost of $11.6 million in the first year. Cab drivers would pay 30 percent
of the cost, with cab companies and medallion holders paying 25 percent
each and the city contributing 20 percent.
The estimated driver premium would be under $50 a month, with an additional
fee tacked on to A-card renewal. A meter increase would help offset
the driver share of costs and a $5-a-shift gate increase would more
than pay for the company share.
Under the proposal, cab drivers would be included in a health and welfare
trust that insures over 100,000 unionized workers. They would have a
choice of several plans offered by Kaiser Permanente and the Chinese
Community Health Plan.
United Taxicab Workers generally supports the recommendations, but has
called for plan improvements and elimination of the A-card fee.
Supervisor Elsbernd expressed concern over the proposed city contribution,
noting that San Francisco has enacted a plan to provide health services
to all its residents. But the Healthy San Francisco Plan is not health
insurance and would not be available outside the city, where a large
percentage of cab drivers live.
Yellow Cab manager Jim Gillespie, speaking for the San Francisco Taxi
Association, supported the concept of health coverage for cab drivers,
but said the association favors bringing them into the city plan.
Carl MacMurdo, speaking for the Medallion Holders Association, proposed
a 25-cent-a-ride meter increase, which would produce $4 million a year
toward driver health costs. That is about one-third of what the commission’s
proposal would provide.