FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 11, 2006
Businesses rally for a Health Insurance Mandate Review Commission
Business leaders representing more than 90,00 New York businesses today
presented New York State lawmakers with a petition calling for creation
of a health insurance mandate review commission. The group united as
part of a statewide effort to control health insurance premiums.
Members of the Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care, the
Business Council of NYS, the Chamber Alliance of New York State, the New
York Farm Bureau, the National Federation of Independent Business and
the Printing & Imaging Association of NY have availed their
constitutional right to petition the State Legislature to support
passage of a Health Insurance Mandate Quality and Cost Containment
Commission. The commission would be established with the sole purpose of
studying the cost and medical efficacy of health insurance mandate
legislation prior to legislative consideration. Health insurance
mandates require employers who offer health insurance to include
coverage for specified benefits as part of the "basic" insurance
package, which drives up cost and diminishes employer choice and
accessibility in purchasing a benefit package.
Lawmakers have earmarked a $300,000 budget allocation to fund the
commission, but they have not yet passed the necessary implementing
legislation. In the past month, more than 900 individual business
owners signed a petition to highlight the urgency of passing this
legislation before the funding expires.
“The entire region suffers when employers are forced to use limited
resources to pay for health insurance mandates,” said Jeff Leland, chair
of the Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care. “Knowing the
long-tern impact before a mandate was a good idea when the Legislator
and Governor set aside the money and it remains a good idea today. We
are appealing to lawmakers to bring this matter to the forefront and
adopt the implementing legislation to use the funding, before it is too
The concept of a health insurance mandate review commission is already
utilized in 26 other states, including our closest neighbors of
Pennsylvania, Vermont, Massachusetts and New Jersey. According to The
Council for Affordable Health Insurance, our state has 46 different
health insurance mandates required in every policy sold in the state and
lawmakers consider nearly 100 more every year without the benefit of an
independent analysis prior to passage.
“Small business owner consistently cite the high cost of health
insurance premiums as one of their primary concerns,” said Rebecca
Malchow, Assistant State Director of the National Federation of
Independent Business. “As a result, NFIB continues to support
initiatives like this one that could help make insurance more affordable
to small business owners and their employees. The Mandate Review
Commission represents an important first step in making insurance more
affordable by systematically evaluating existing mandates, as well as
new ones that are proposed. This analysis could provide the foundation
for eliminating some existing mandates, potentially rejecting new ones
proposed, and ultimately provide the framework for a streamlined,
affordable health insurance plan for small businesses.
A 2003 study commissioned by the Employer Alliance for Affordable Health
Care found that the cumulative impact of NY’s mandated benefits equated
to 12.2 percent of the total premium costs. For family policyholders,
the price tag equates to nearly $1,300 per year.
“Small business owners have carried the burden of mandate decisions for
years,” said Elliott Shaw, Director of Government Affairs for the
Business Council of New York State. “We are in a health insurance
affordability crisis. The time for the Legislature to act is now.”
Studies have found a nexus between high premium costs and the number and
cost of state health insurance mandates, New York’s chiropractic
mandate law (1998) included a requirement that the Department of
Insurance study the impact of this new mandate. That study, released in
2000, determined that the cost of these services accounted for as much
as 2.6% of premium and concluded that there were “no savings
attributable to the passage of the mandate. It has since been determined
that the chiropractic mandate is one of the most expensive mandated
services in New York adding more than $265 to the annual premium of
every family policy in New York. In 2002, while considering a mandate
to cover computer aided detection (CAD) mammograms, the legislature
passed a bill that called for the Department of Insurance to formally
study this issue. The report concluded that a lack of data prevented a
recommendation to mandate computer aided detection screenings. Since
that time new studies on CAD have been released. If a commission was in
place, they might be able to effectively track scientific advances to
determine if their findings in 2002 are still appropriate today.
“Because of skyrocketing health insurance costs, nearly 3 million New
Yorkers are still without coverage. We need to find ways to make
insurance more affordable,” said Jeff Williams, Legislative Director for
New York Farm Bureau. The Commission can help shine a light on the
true costs of mandates insurance coverage legislation and help ensure
that the number of uninsured will not rise. The Legislature included
$300,000 in this year’s state budget to support the creation of the
Commission, now the Legislature needs to pass legislation to implement
“A strong and unified voice is the most effective way the Legislature
will recognize that small businesses cannot continue to pay for health
insurance mandates, especially those passed in a manner that defies any
practical or common business sense,” said Peter Aust, Chairman of the
Chamber Alliance of New York State. “Many of our neighboring states have
successfully used this type of review commission. A similar approach in
New York State is long overdue.”
The Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care, a coalition of 2,500
business owners and sole proprietors representing more than 175,000
working New Yorkers who believe that everyone should have access to
basic, affordable health insurance. Members of the coalition oppose
health insurance mandates, which drive up costs and contribute to New
York’s growing number of uninsured. Jeff Leland, chairman of the Board
of Directors, will speak for the coalition. He is also the president of
Leland Paper Co. in Glen Falls.
The Business Council of New York State, Inc., is the primary advocacy
group for business in New York State, supported by some 4,000 member
companies and Chambers of Commerce. Director of Communications Matthew
Maguire is speaking for the group.
The Chamber Alliance of New York State is an association of chambers of
commerce throughout New York State representing over 90,000 businesses.
It is dedicated to focusing the collective influence and efforts of
chambers, while contributing to their growth and professionalism.
Speaking on behalf of the group is the chairman, Peter Aust, president
and CEO of The Chamber of Southern Saratoga County.
The New York Farm Bureau is a non-governmental, volunteer organization
financed and controlled by families for the purpose of solving economic
and public policy issues challenging the agriculture industry. With more
than 35,000 member families, it is evident that Farm Bureau is the
voice of New York agriculture.
The National Federation of Independent Business is the nation's leading
small-business advocacy group representing the consensus views of its
members in Washington and all 50 state capitals. Speaking on behalf of
the group is Brian Merriam, chairman of the leadership council and owner
of The Merriam Insurance Agency, Schenectady.
The Printing and Imaging Association of New York State, Inc. is the
trade association representing the graphic communications industry in
upstate New York, and northwestern Pennsylvania. With over 275 member
companies, this trade association offers its membership a host of
services, programs and support.
The Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care is the largest
single-issue grassroots business coalition in New York State - 2,500
small business owners and sole proprietors representing more than
200,000 working New Yorkers. To learn more, visit our website at www.employeralliance.com.