January 16, 2002
Chambers honor Seward, Morelle, Serio for their work on insurance issues
The Chamber Alliance of New York State (CANYS) has honored two state legislators and a key executive in the Pataki administration for their work in 2001 on insurance-related issues.
State Senator James Seward (R-Otsego County) and Assemblyman Joseph Morelle (D-Monroe) were named "Legislators of the Year" by CANYS, an association of New York's local and regional chambers of commerce that is affiliated with The Business Council of New York State.
In addition, Gregory V. Serio, superintendent of the state Insurance Department, was honored as Government Official of the Year.
The awards were presented Tuesday, Jan. 15, at a CANYS luncheon in Albany. The presentation was part of the group's annual Legislative/Leadership Conference, which takes place each year in Albany.
Seward and Morelle were honored for their work crafting and then sponsoring legislation designed to make it easier for sole proprietors to find affordable health insurance. Serio was honored for his responsiveness to chambers and individual businesses on these issues and a range of other business insurance issues.
As health insurance costs in New York have continued to increase far faster than the rate of inflation, New York's smallest businesses, especially sole proprietors, have in many cases seen sudden premium increases of as much as 30 percent or more.
This has made it hard for these businesses to afford any health insurance and, in some cases, have threatened the viability of the business itself.
Some insurers, pressured by these escalating costs, have been forced to eliminate sole proprietors' long-standing access to group-rated insurance coverage available to sole proprietors through their membership in chambers of commerce or other business associations.
The Seward-Morelle bill would amend the state Insurance Law to include sole proprietors in the definition of small groups eligible for group-rate insurance available through chambers or other associations. Current law permits that group-rate insurance to be available only to groups of between two and 50 employees.
CANYS is an association of chambers of commerce and their executives. Its goals are to focus the influence and work of the state's local and regional chambers, and to enhance the growth of member chambers and their executives.