Pamela Finch FOR IMMEDIATE
(315) 363-9657 November 4, 2003
Latest Report Card Studies Albany's
Long-term Commitment to Affordable Health Insurance
ALBANY/ONEIDA - Health insurance premium costs were spared the
unnecessary burden of legislative mandate passage in 2003, but the
overall picture requires significant improvement if lawmakers are truly
committed to controlling premium costs, according to the Employer
Alliance for Affordable Healthcare's annual Legislative Report Card.
annual study, released by the largest single-issue business coalition
in New York State, evaluates each assemblymember and senator's voting
record on issues pertaining to health insurance. Copies of the report
card were mailed to Employer Alliance members prior to the election. The
Employer Alliance for Affordable Healthcare is a group of business
people and individuals who believe that everyone should have basic,
affordable coverage. The group opposes laws passed by the New York State
Legislature that require specific treatments or coverage and contribute
to rising insurance cost.
What is new this year?
The 2003 Legislative Report Card takes it evaluation
to a new level this year by including a cumulative grade. This grade is
based on information compiled between 2001-2003. It allows voters to
focus on the big picture by showing a legislator's long-term voting
pattern, which gives a clear picture on their long-term commitment to
members rely on this document to accurately assess their lawmaker's
position on issues that ultimately determine their access to coverage,
said Alliance Chairman Scott Miller, who is a small business owner in
Amsterdam. Small business owners and sole proprietors are hardest hit by
the cost of unfunded mandates. Every time Albany passes a law that adds
a treatment or service to the basic health insurance policy, that cost
is passed on to the consumer, with the exception of businesses that
self-insure. That forces New York's small businesses and sole
proprietors to carry the full financial burden. While many lawmakers
claim to understand this hardship, only through their actual bill
sponsorship record and voting history that we see who among our
representatives truly understands this issue.
In 2003, the Legislature presented only two bills
related to Alliance positions: the Mental Health & Substance Abuse
Mandate and Mandate Reform Legislation. The Mental Health Mandate,
opposed by the Alliance, would require unlimited mental health and
substance abuse benefits in each policy. Mandate Reform, which the
Alliance supports would revamp the process by which health insurance
mandates are passed by requiring a study of cost and medical efficacy to
be presented to lawmakers before a bill's passage.
How Lawmakers Were Graded
In compiling the report card, the Employer
Alliance considers each lawmakers voting and bill introduction record.
In certain cases, grades may reflect other factors that demonstrate a
lawmaker's commitment to affordable health care. Grading criteria is (A)
excellent, (B) good, (C) fair and (D) poor.
Top of their Class
Assemblymembers who received a cumulative grade of A in this year's report card are as follows:
Thomas F. Barraga (A)/ Suffolk County
Robin Schimminger (A)/ Erie & Niagara counties
David R. Townsend Jr. (A-)/Oneida & Oswego counties
Robert J. Warner (A-)/Broome County.
Senators with a grade of A- or higher are:
Hugh T. Farley (A-)/ Fulton, Montgomery, Saratoga and Schenectady counties
Neil Breslin (A)/ Albany County, Ray Meier (A+)/ St. Lawrence, Lewis and Oneida counties
James W. Wright (A-)/Jefferson, St. Lawrence and Oswego counties
James L. Seward (A)/ Herkimer, Otsego, Schoharie, Cortland and Greene counties
John R. (Randy) Kuhl (A-)/ Yates, Steuben, Schuyler and Tompkins counties
Dale M. Volker (A)/ Erie, Ontario, Livingston and Wyoming counties.
About the Employer Alliance for Affordable Healthcare
Employer Alliance for Affordable Healthcare started in 1997 when a
handful of private business owners and individuals banned together to
oppose mandates following passage of the "Chiropractic Care Act." A New
York State Insurance Department study found that this single benefit
increased the cost of health insurance by $110 million annually. Today
the Employer Alliance remains the largest single-issue business
coalition in New York State with more than 2,200 members who represent
over 150,000 New Yorkers. To learn more about the organization, call
Pamela Finch at (315) 363-9657 or visit our website at www.employeralliance.com