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, Tuesday
March 25, 2003

     GOVERNOR ANNOUNCES ENHANCEMENTS TO THE HEALTHY NY PROGRAM
Changes To Create More Affordable Rates, Expanded Choice, and Increased Eligibility

        Governor George E. Pataki today announced new amendments to the Healthy NY program regulations that will create more affordable premium rates, expanded choice in the Healthy NY benefits package, and increased eligibility.

        "The Healthy NY program already provides quality healthcare coverage to tens of thousands of New York’s previously uninsured employers and employees, sole proprietors, and individuals," said Governor Pataki. "Today is New York State Small Business Day and I can’t think of a more appropriate time to announce these critical improvements to the Healthy NY program. The changes will make this comprehensive insurance benefits package even more affordable and offer more uninsured small businesses and New Yorkers access to health insurance."

        Daniel B. Walsh, President of the Business Council of New York State said, "Governor Pataki’s efforts to improve Healthy NY is welcome news, especially on Small Business Day, when affordable health care is a central focus of our advocacy. New York must continue to find new ways to make affordable health insurance more widely available to all businesses, including those already paying much higher costs for health insurance."

        Mark Alesse, New York State Director of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB) said, "I commend Governor Pataki for his steadfast commitment and efforts to providing more affordable health insurance opportunities for New York’s small business community. The improvements being made to the Healthy NY will make a great program even better, and that is welcome news to our members and to their employees."

        Patrick Hooker, Director of Public Policy, New York State Farm Bureau said, "Farmers are relying on state insurance programs to provide health insurance to their families and employees with increased frequency. We are pleased to see these positive changes and recognize that this is part of Governor Pataki's and Superintendent Serio's ongoing efforts to lowering expensive health insurance costs so that small businesses, including agricultural operations, can provide much needed health coverage."

        The changes to the Healthy NY program are designed to make the benefits package more affordable and also offer consumers more choices when it comes to prescription drug coverage. Through the lowering of the stop loss corridors, premium rates are expected to become even more affordable. Also, the Healthy NY package will now be offered at two different price points, with or without prescription drug benefits.

        Additionally, the amendments will offer increased eligibility. The new Insurance Department regulation contains, among other provisions:

• Broader employment standards;

• Simplified re-certification;

• Exempt child support from income eligibility requirements;

• No longer require co-payments for well child visits;

• Small employers employing part-time workers could choose the level of premium conditions; and

• Create greater flexibility in employer contribution requirements.

        "Uninsured New Yorkers will now have an even more affordable Healthy NY product, as well as additional personal choice when it comes to what they want in their particular benefits package," said State Insurance Superintendent Gregory V. Serio. "Also, Healthy NY will now be even more accessible and provide needed healthcare for even more New Yorkers. This is yet another indication of Governor Pataki’s continued commitment to making comprehensive health insurance available to all New Yorkers."

        The Healthy NY program was established as a part of the landmark Heath Care Reform Act of 2000. Beginning in January 2001, Healthy NY created a new state-sponsored health insurance program for eligible small businesses with 50 or fewer employees, sole proprietors and eligible working uninsured individuals. The benefits are available through all of the state’s HMOs.

        Small Business Day is conducted each March by The Business Council. The Chamber Alliance of New York State (CANYS) and the National Federation of Independent Business cosponsor the event. The purpose of Small Business Day is to give small-business operators a chance to discuss priority issues with key lawmakers and staff.

        For further information on the Healthy NY Program visit the Insurance Department's Web site at www.HealthyNY.com.


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