"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times" - A Tale of Two Cities
The 2015-16 session was a time of intense challenge for health insurance consumers, starting with Governor Andrew Cuomo's Health Insurance Guaranty Fund proposal and ending with a barrage of bills passed in the Legislature's final days.
The session included health insurers requesting premium increases of 17.3 percent for the individual market and12 percent for small group. In spite of that news, lawmakers proposed a new health insurance fee to cover the costs when health plans fail. Our members rallied against this fee and successfully defeated the proposal.
This session also marked the rebirth of the Health Care Quality and Cost Containment Commission which allows lawmakers to review the cost to consumers and the medical efficacy of any health insurance mandate proposal BEFORE it’s implemented. This marks the second time The Employer Alliance has rallied for this bill and while we were successful in getting it passed, the commission itself was never seated. In the spirit of transparency, consumers deserve to know this information.
However, the end of session crunch did take its toll. Lawmakers approved a bill that would allow doctors to bypass one of the few cost saving practices available in health insurance known as Step Therapy. It’s a process used to promote quality and efficacy while also helping to keep prescription drug coverage affordable. If signed into premium payers will now be left to pick up another financial burden. This is in addition to two other measures that will increase the cost of health insurance - one related to breast cancer screening which eliminates consumer cost-sharing and one expanding coverage for opioid and heroin addiction.
But, as the old adage goes, it’s not over until it's over. The Employer Alliance continues to weigh in to ensure that the voice of small business is heard - urging the Governor to veto step therapy and reminding lawmakers how urgently we need to reduce health insurance costs.
That is our message to New York State:
Make health insurance affordable.
Stop passing mandates.