Senator Onorato Pushes Bill To Ensure Health Insurance Benefits For Part-time Workers

George Onorato

May 24, 2006

As the debate continues to rage in New York State and across the nation on the best way to aid uninsured workers, State Senator George Onorato (D-Queens) is continuing to push his legislation (S3474) that would expand health insurance coverage for many of the state’s part-time employees.

"In New York State alone, approximately three million people lack health insurance," said Senator Onorato, the rankingMinority member of the Senate Insurance Committee. "Ultimately, this exacts a price from all of us -- whether it comes in the form of increased costs to our health care system, or in the form of increased human suffering by people who can’t afford a doctor’s care when they’re sick. While New York has been working with some success to increase access to health insurance for its residents, I think we can do more."

Under Senator Onorato’s legislation, businesses with 26 or more employees would be required to offer pro-rated health insurance benefits for part-time workers if they already provide coverage to their full-time employees. For example, if a part-time employee works 20 hours a week, and a full-time employee works 40 hours a week, the employer would offer the part-time employee health insurance and pay 50 percent of the premium the company already pays to cover its full-time employees. The remaining 50 percent of the premium would be paid by the part-time employee.

"While we clearly won’t be able to solve the problem of our uninsured residents overnight, I think my legislation would help to provide at least part of a safety net for working New Yorkers who may be most in need of health coverage," said Senator Onorato. "Many New Yorkers with full-time jobs are having trouble making ends meet, and those with part-time work face even greater challenges. In the end, a person’s ability to obtain potentially life-saving health care shouldn’t be solely determined by the number of hours spent on the job."

The Senator’s legislation is currently under consideration by the Senate Labor Committee.