Logo, The Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care - Health Care Advocacy Group

Press Release


Contact Pamela Finch                                             FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                         

(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.


 This 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 affordability.


Our 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

The 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