GOP Efforts To Reduce Soaring Health Care Costs Squashed By Dems

Hugh T. Farley

March 20, 2009

State Senator Hugh T. Farley (R, C - Schenectady) announced today that a pair of Republican-sponsored amendments that would have reduced skyrocketing health care costs in New York were rejected.

The initial amendment would have rolled back the Governor’s "health insurance tax," approved last month as part of the so-called Deficit Reduction Package (DRP). The $240 million increased assessment on insurance companies will raise the cost of health insurance premiums for families, individuals and businesses by more than a third. The tax hike was passed as a result of unanimous Democrat support.

According to the New York State Insurance Department, small business health premiums have increased an average of 13.5% annually since 2000.

The "health insurance tax" will impact New Yorkers from every corner of the State by raising the cost of both individual and family health insurance coverage, in some cases up to $200 more a year.

In addition to defeating the roll back of the health insurance tax, a plan by Senate Republicans that would expand access to affordable, quality health care by reducing the cost of health insurance policies for small businesses offered by the Healthy NY program was also rejected.

The Senate Republican plan would expand eligibility for Healthy NY from 208 percent of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) to 250 percent of the FPL. This would make a family of four with annual net income of approximately $60,000 per year eligible for the program.

The Senate Republican plan would also make Healthy NY available to all, but at an unsubsidized rate. Doing so would reduce health insurance costs for small businesses at no cost to the State because qualified businesses would be able to purchase streamlined health insurance policies, which could reduce premiums by up to 50 percent.