Ugh. Here we go again.

Diners are discovering an unfamiliar new item when the bill comes for the truffled lobster Bolognese at Melisse and for the crunchy Spanish fried chicken and waffles at AOC — a 3% surcharge for employees’ medical insurance.


The charge first appeared at one Los Angeles-area restaurant late last year; by early September, more than a dozen mainly high-end eateries followed suit. The added cost has given some diners heartburn and thrust the restaurants’ owners unwillingly into the debate over the Affordable Care Act.


The healthcare surcharge, the restaurant owners insist, isn’t a political statement, but a way to offer valuable benefits to employees while maintaining their profits, which are slim even at the most successful establishments.

No, it’s not political. It’s idiotic, and betrays a complete misunderstanding of the Afforadable Care Act.

Republique was the first to start this nonsense, and as a result I still refuse to go there. All this article does is expand the list of L.A. Restaurants who’s doors I shall never darken.

Here’s the problem with the 3% Charge, and I say this as an unapologetic supporter of the Affordable Care Act: A good chunk of Restaurant crew, Waitstaff, Busboys, Hostesses, all make individually under $44,000 a year. They qualify for Federal Subsidies, aka money from our Tax dollars to help in paying for Health Insurance.

Of course, Republique says some of them make as much as $80,000 a year.  If that’s true, great…then not only do they not qualify for subsidies, they don’t need them.

Let’s say a Bill Chait Employee did qualify for subsides (as I suspect is more likely than he thinks).  If Republique was using this 3% to cover the balance between the Subsidies and what remained from a plan purchased on the Federal Exchanges, that’d be one thing. Hell, that’d make them heroes.

But no, Republique cut a side deal with Kaiser, and their employees apparently WILL NOT BE SHOPPING for Insurance on Covered California, the only place where Federal Subsidies (and thus, our Tax Dollars) are available for California Citizens.

“We will absolutely pay for healthcare,” said Chait, who is offering employees three Kaiser options, two that require employee contributions and one that doesn’t. And he said he’s already looking into offering similar plans to employees of other local restaurants he owns.

That was in the last L.A. Times piece that “praised” Mr. Chait’s actions.

So let’s make this clear. Republique is charging Federal Taxpayers extra for covering their Employees with Health Insurance, then making sure it’s impossible for those same employees to go on Covered California to get the good plans and the Federal tax dollars that should be available to them.

Bill Chait is making a choice that benefits him.  Not his customers.  Not his employees.  Him.

And now I have to include ALL of Chait’s Restaurants on a “I’d rather die than eat at list”, as well as his compatriots that this is just a swell idea: Melisse, AOC, Rustic Canyon, Milo & OliveLucques, Tavern, Son of a Gun (which I just made the mistake of eating at), and Animal.

The line I’m drawing is not about the 3%, but the fact that these employees have been cut off from Covered California.

There is ZERO mention of Covered California anywhere in the L.A. Times piece, so I am forced to conclude these other restaurants are doing what Bill Chait did, deciding what plans their Employees will have, and charging me for the difference…even though my Tax Dollars were waiting for them on Covered California (if said employees qualify for Federal Subsidies).

If these guys want to send their employees to Covered California, and use the 3% to cover the difference, I’ll praise them (rightly) as heroes.  But that’s not what they’re doing, is it?

Until I get assurances that these employees can go on Covered California for their Insurance, these restaurants are poison to me.