For Immediate Release: June 8, 2011
For more information, contact: Pamela Reese Finch
(518) 462-2296 / firstname.lastname@example.org
Today’s mandates will negate any savings from federal reform
By Jeff Subra
Director, Employer Alliance for Affordable Healthcare
BUFFALO – Health Insurance mandate legislation has always presented a unique problem for New York’s small business sector. This problem now takes on a new twist as the state makes a transition to universal health care reform.
The intention of last year’s federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and Health Care and Education Reconciliation Act of 2010 were to increase accessibility and decrease costs through insurance industry reform. As the plan now unfolds, it’s clear that a “basic” package of services to be covered by health insurance would prove costly to New York’s premium payers because of our excessive number of health insurance mandates. I am referring to state legislation that regulates what types of treatments and services must be offered in every fully-insured health insurance package. The Council for Affordable Health Insurance has consistently ranked New York in the top 10 of “most heavily” mandated states for more than a decade.
Yet, even with the process of federal health insurance reform well underway, the State Legislature is taking measures that will knowingly negate any future savings. Specifically, New York lawmakers are taking steps to expand coverage for Autism Spectrum Disorder – a more expansive bill than a measure vetoed by last year by Governor David Paterson, who cited the additional $70 million cost to New York State as his reason for rejecting it.
The fact that every health insurance mandate increases costs is not new, but what has changed is the federal government’s effort to establish a uniform, basic package. If is determined that some of New York’s more costly mandates — like mental health parity and chiropractic care — are not considered “basic” medical needs, New Yorker’s will face two possible choices:accept coverage restrictions and greater out-of-pocket costs as New York’s package of required benefits is aligned with federal standards (not likely as lawmakers will be hard pressed to take away benefits people already have), or face considerably higher premiums to pay for these “extra” services.
Given this scenario, the obvious question is why, then, are lawmakers seriously considering S4005/A6305 to expand autism coverage? Taxpayers who are grappling to adjust to the various cutbacks of the last budget session will have to pay an additional $70 million (at a minimum) and private businesses will pay even more as their health insurance costs continue to climb. Instead of knowingly pursing more costly mandates, New York lawmakers, Democrats and Republicans alike, should focus on the implementation of federal reform and meeting the goals of that reform: greater affordability and accessibility of health coverage for more New Yorkers.
Mr. Subra is the owner of Eskay Metal Fabricating in Buffalo and on the board of directors of the Employer Alliance for Affordable Health Care, a coalition of more than 3,400 employers and individuals from across New York, representing more than 200,000 working New Yorkers,
committed to preserving quality affordable health care.