2004 Priority Issue



Two separate bills have been introduced requiring that insurance policies provide greater insurance coverage for mental illnesses. The most expansive bill (S.5329/A.8301) has passed the state Assembly on 3/3/04 by a vote of 131/10. The Business Council's memo in opposition. A study by Nova Rest Consulting has estimated that costs would increase 3-5%.

The Senate Majority introduced a new mental health parity bill on 5/13/04. S.7296 has a number of changes compared to the above-mentioned version. The bill does the following:

  • exempts employers with 50 or fewer employees;
  • for companies with more than 50 employees, if the mandate increases health insurance costs by 2% or more, they too would be exempt;
  • takes effect January 1, 2005 and sunsets December 31, 2007;
  • has a more narrow definition of coverages;
  • has broader coverages for children;
  • alcohol and substance abuse are not covered, nor are cosmetics;
  • care is delivered "in-network".

On June 18 the Assembly introduced a new version of mental health parity (A.11694). The bill is a broad mental health parity that gives some small businesses a 3% health insurance tax credit. The tax credit is not available to sole proprietors. The Business Council is opposed to the new Assembly version and has signed-onto the attached press release.


The Senate passed S. 7296 on June 22 by a vote of 41-19.
The Assembly passed A.8301 on March 3 by a vote of 131-10.
The Assembly passed A.11694 on June 23 by a vote of 141-6.

All three bills are different.

The Business Council, in conjunction with other trade associations and chamber of commerce, places a full page ad in the Albany Times Union calling for preservation of the small business exemption. Click here to view the ad.