June 9, 2007 Government Affairs Update

End of Session Update

The Business Council continues to push its end of session priorities with Governor Spitzer and legislative leaders. Here is an update:

On the “defensive” agenda, the Business Council continues to oppose a paid family leave mandate (see separate story below), Internet infrastructure regulation, marketing restrictions for pharmaceuticals, an expanded bottle deposit law and various insurance mandates, among others.

The legislature is scheduled to recess on Thursday, June 21.

Paid Family Leave Testimony

The Business Council testified before this week's Senate hearing on paid family leave legislation, urging the legislature to not impose this new burden on the state's private sector. Tom Minnick, Business Council Vice President for Human Resources, and Laurie DeLong, Manager of Human Resources from Ball Corporation and chair of The Business Council's Human Resources Committee, told the Senate panel that legislation requiring employers to offer paid family leave would increase New York's already high job-creation costs, and impact the state''s competitive position. We also emphasized that our members have objected to paid family leave legislation since it promotes employee absence, with resulting business disruption and costs -- such as overtime rates -- necessary to fill in for vacant positions. The Senate is currently considering three paid leave bills , S.4738, S.5820, and Governor Spitzer 's program bill, S.5821. All three bills are sponsored by Senator Thomas P. Morahan.

Healthcare Community Reinvestment Fund

The Business Council is opposing new legislation that would create the so-called“healthcare community reinvestment fund. This proposal (S.6056/Hannon and A.8704/Bradley) would establish a fund to provide financial support to hospitals and physicians, and fund health information technology (HIT) and other healthcare initiatives including quality, workforce, access and infrastructure. These programs would be funded by increased assessments on health care insurance, specifically by increasing the medical loss ratios for the individual and small group markets, and establishing a loss ratio for large groups. This bill amounts to a redistribution of health plan premiums to healthcare providers by imposing another tax on health insurance, and will increase the cost of coverage for New York's employers and drive healthcare spending higher.

In addition to more than $2 billion in Health Care Reform Act taxes on private health coverage that already fund a host of community healthcare priorities, billions of dollars in state and federal funds are already committed to healthcare technology and to restructuring New York's healthcare system. This bill seeks to create yet another pool of healthcare dollars and generate funds that are simply not needed. Compounded by a $75 million increase in the covered lives assessment enacted in this year's budget, the bill creates another tax and a new burden on employers that would drive premiums and healthcare spending even higher.