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July 19, 2004

Council, state chambers, urge Senate to exempt small business from any new insurance mandate

Mandating mental health coverage would increase insurance premiums significantly for small businesses, placing them at an economic disadvantage and putting affordable health coverage further out of reach, The Business Council and other business leaders told Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno.

A July 16 letter from The Business Council and 19 other business groups from across the state urged the Senate to stick by its previous commitment to exempt businesses with 50 employees or fewer from the proposed mental health parity mandate.

“Year after year, New York’s small businesses identify the high cost of providing health coverage to workers as their number one concern and the most significant obstacle to economic growth, competitiveness and job development,” the letter said.

“With tight profit margins and an ever increasing cost of doing businesses in New York, small businesses are particularly vulnerable to the increased cost of health insurance.”

The letter acknowledged the importance of providing some basic mental health benefits. “In fact, many employers already provide comprehensive mental health coverage to their workers,” the letter noted.

According to a recent poll, more than 70 percent of New Yorkers find those existing benefits to be adequate, the letter added.

“With a small business exemption you send a signal—a signal that says you care about small businesses and their workers; that you care about the impact of rising health care costs on these businesses; and that you care about small businesses as employers and as a critical partner in New York’s economic resurgence,” the letter concluded.

The letter was signed by Business Council President Daniel B. Walsh and 19 others including: