STATE OF NEW YORK

EXECUTIVE CHAMBER

GEORGE E. PATAKI, GOVERNOR


Press Office
518-474-8418
212-681-4640
http://www.state.ny.us

FOR RELEASE:
IMMEDIATE, Thursday
June 20, 2002

GOVERNOR, MAJORITY LEADER, SPEAKER: AGREEMENT ON LEGISLATION MAKING HEALTH INSURANCE MORE AFFORDABLE FOR SMALLEST BUSINESSES
New Law Makes Small Business Group Health Insurance Available to Sole Proprietors

          Governor George E. Pataki, Senate Majority Leader Joseph L. Bruno and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver today announced an agreement on a bill that will make more affordable health insurance available to small businesses run by sole proprietors. The new law creates a new premium rate for sole proprietors that is significantly lower than the individual rates they are now paying.

          "Recognizing that nothing is more important then the health of your family, we have worked hard to enact meaningful and practical health insurance reforms for all New Yorkers," Governor Pataki said. "New York's small businesses are the backbone of the State's economy and our sole proprietors - the smallest of New York's businesses - deserve access to more affordable health insurance coverage for themselves and their families."

          The legislation amends the insurance law and requires health insurers that offer group coverage through New York's Chambers of Commerce or association groups to offer the same policies to sole proprietors and caps any rate differential at 20 percent.

          Majority Leader Bruno said, "Small business is the heart of our business economy and small business owners need affordable health insurance for their families. This bill will make affordable health insurance available to more than 250,000 people by giving sole proprietors access to the same coverage as other small businesses."

          Speaker Silver said, "Small businesses and sole proprietors are an important part of our State's economy and this legislation will ensure that these hard-working New Yorkers now have equal access to health insurance for themselves and their families. The Assembly Majority has long fought for quality health care for all New Yorkers, and this legislation moves us closer to that goal."

          Senator James Seward said, "This bill is essential to helping small businesses afford health insurance. The cost of health insurance is a huge financial burden for sole proprietors, like accountants, barbers or contractors, and this bill would make health insurance available to them at a better rate."

          Assemblyman Joseph Morelle said, "This is an important victory for entrepreneurs and other individuals around the State who are trying to start new businesses and achieve success. I hope that the end result will be the creation of more jobs across the State."

          State Insurance Superintendent Gregory V. Serio said, "This bill has remained at the top of the Department's legislative agenda for the past two years. Growing up in the family of a sole proprietor I am personally gratified to see this piece of legislation become law in New York State."

          The legislation has passed both houses of the legislature and will be signed by the Governor.


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