The Business Council opposes this legislation, which establishes the Healthy New York/Labor- Management Benefit Fund Demonstration Program to provide access to Healthy New York funds to subsidize union benefit plans. The legislation runs against the intent of Healthy New York, which is to assist small businesses in providing health insurance for their workers and their dependents. It would redirect millions of dollars in Healthy New York reinsurance funds to subsidize health insurance costs for union members, and would significantly undermine the Healthy New York program, which is vital to small business owners across the state.
Healthy New York was created in 2000 to help companies with 50 or fewer employees offer health insurance coverage to their workers, particularly those small businesses that have never offered health insurance. It is unique in its design, with a more limited benefit plan and state reinsurance funds to cover some of the cost of claims. These two features help make the program more affordable for many small businesses, including sole proprietors.
Healthy New York premiums must remain affordable for small business owners. Taking $25 million out of the program for select union plans will deplete the reinsurance pools that subsidize the program, thereby increasing the cost for small businesses.
Also troubling is the provision that limits participation in the program to “not less than three nor more than five qualifying health benefit funds.” This language suggests that the program is intended to benefit a select group of unions that already have health benefit plans in place and that already provide coverage to their members. The proponents are attempting to use state funds intended to subsidize coverage for small businesses to subsidize coverage for union members who already receive coverage.
Access to affordable health coverage is a critical issue for New York's small businesses and the No. 1 issue of The Business Council. Healthy New York is the best thing the state has done to reduce the cost of small business health insurance. The Business Council is currently working on proposals to increase enrollment. We oppose the redirection of funds that were allocated by law for small businesses to any other use. The Business Council urges you to reject S.6316/A.4859- D.