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Legislative Memo

518.465.7511

BILL:

S.7002

Support

SUBJECT:

Health-care re-investment fund

 

DATE:

March 29, 2006

 

New York's health care system costs more than the national average because of mandates, regulatory burdens and the imposition of unique and costly taxes (graduate medical education), some of which are not charged in other states. Yet other taxes (bad debt and charity care taxes), are levied at higher levels than the vast majority of other states.

New York does not need another tax on health insurance and we vigorously oppose S.7002.

Today, New York employers pay more than $1.5 billion in HCRA taxes for bad debt / charity care and graduate medical education. New York ranks number one in taxes on health insurance premiums.

The tax proposed in S. 7002 would be another quarter of a million dollars on over-burdened businesses.

Additionally, New York employers pay significant extra taxes for the operation of the state Insurance Department, through assessments on insurance carriers. Some of these costs are for general public health programs and should not be borne by the business community, but should be from the state's general revenues. Insurance carriers also pay high premium taxes in New York B taxes that invariably are passed along to the business community.

Putting another tax on runaway health care costs will only diminish the ability of small businesses to purchase affordable health insurance coverage. Another tax on insurers and their customers adds insult to injury and increases the crushing burden experienced by employers.

The use of the money collected by the tax B to invest in health information technology (HIT) B is duplicative of another state program (HEAL NY) which is investing over $50 million in HIT. The business community is strongly supportive of the HEAL NY initiative.

The Berger Commission, created by the legislature, is developing a plan to right-size the hospital system and has been holding public hearings in different regions of the state.  The Commission, with strong input from each region of the state, will be proposing steps to make the system more efficient and financially stronger.  This initiative may run counter to the work of the Commission and may be viewed by other regions of the state as a way to delay tough decisions.

The Business Council opposes yet another tax on health insurance, even one masquerading as community reinvestment. The Business Council supports reduction in existing HCRA taxes as a way to make health insurance more affordable. We want to continue the partnership with the Senate to pursue Freedom Health Plans and small business health insurance tax credits as more rational solutions to soaring health care costs.