Date: March 2007
(Farley) - An
Act to amend the insurance law and the legislative law in relation to
creating the New York Health Benefit and Cost Commission.
The Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care
is a grassroots coalition of nearly 3,500 employers and individuals
committed to keeping health care in New York affordable.
S.3020-A/A.6159 seeks to establish a more rational approach to
legislating health insurance mandates by creating the New York Health
Benefit and Cost Commission that in part would provide the Legislature
with cost/efficacy studies for health insurance mandate proposals prior
to legislative consideration. We enthusiastically support its passage.
Affordable health insurance continues to be a critical concern for
businesses statewide, especially for small business owners. Recent
surveys sponsored by the Business Council, NFIB and others have
concurred that health care costs are the number one concern for small
business in New York. Contributing to increased health insurance
costs are state mandated services and benefits. The burden of health
insurance mandates falls predominately on small businesses and the
self-employed – because many large companies can take advantage of
moving to self-insurance and escape state benefit requirements. How
costly are mandates in New York? The Employer Alliance released
a landmark study in 2003, which concluded that mandated benefits in
New York cost every policyholder 12.2% of premium – or more than $1,300
for a family policy. With health care costs rising well above the
rate of inflation the past several years, lawmakers must be informed of
the total impact of passing any additional mandates.
The need for this legislation is critical. The recent debate over
mental health parity highlights the importance of this proposal.
Advocates for the mental health mandate bill indicated that the cost of
the additional mental health coverage would be minimal – “a cup of
coffee” was the slogan used. The Governor’s budget shed some light on
the true cost of this legislation and determined that it would cost
$100 million for the small business subsidy alone! It will likely
cost large employers even more as the mandate required large groups to
cover an even wider array of benefits. If unbiased cost estimates were
made available to the legislature, it is very likely that this
legislation would have looked very different – or perhaps never been
passed at all.
We note that the 2006-07 budget included a joint legislative
initiative to appropriate $300,000 to enact a mandate commission
pending implementing legislation. Although the implementing legislation
was not passed, S.3020-A/A.6159 represents the current state of
negotiations between the houses and it appears that there are no areas
of disagreement between the houses. Accordingly, now is the time to
enact this legislation and allow New York to join with 26 states
including our immediate neighbors Pennsylvania, New Jersey, Vermont and
most recently Massachusetts require a cost/efficacy analysis for
health insurance mandate bills.
For businesses and all premium payers struggling to maintain
coverage, this proposal is long overdue. Never has the need for this
legislation been more critical. Vote YES on S.3020-A/A.6159.
Employer Alliance For
Affordable Health Care<
Albany, New York 2201-1412
Jeff Leland, Chairman