June 22, 2001
Council urges Albany to reject bills that would inflate health costs
The Business Council is urging lawmakers to reject three health-care bills that would increase costs and reduce quality of care for consumers.
On June 20, the Senate passed a bill (S.5627-LaValle) which would require all health-insurance policies to cover costly treatments for infertility. The Assembly has long supported such an infertility mandate.
Health-care mandates drive up health costs for everyone, and it has been estimated that this mandate would inflate costs by as much as 5 percent, The Council said in a memorandum of opposition.
"By making all health insurance more costly, this measure would inevitably pressure some employers, especially small businesses, to discontinue offering health insurance," The Council's memo said.
"Government policy should focus instead on making health insurance as affordable as possible so that as many employers and individuals as possible can afford it."
A second bill (A.8318/Rules Committee) would create new opportunities for lawsuits against insurers in disputes about health-care coverage.
"This would be a bonanza for trial lawyers, but it would do little for consumers besides add to the skyrocketing premiums consumers are forced to pay," Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh said.
A recent survey of consumers by the National Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association showed they ranked the right to sue as the least important of 21 major health issues.
A third bill (A.5048/Colman) would give health-care providers the right to decide on such things as type of treatment and frequency of visits to be covered by insurance. The bill would also encourage the use of alternative treatments, regardless of whether their effectiveness or safety has been proven.
In a memorandum opposing the bill, The Council argued that providers should have authority to recommend treatments, but not to dictate levels of insurance coverage.