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IMMEDIATE, Wednesday
September 13, 2000


Amendments to HCRA Legislation to Extend Coverage to Actors and Self-Employed

Governor George E. Pataki today was joined by representatives of the Actors' Fund of America to sign into law improvements to the Health Care Reform Act of 2000. The changes will make health insurance coverage under the State's new Healthy NY program available to even more New Yorkers, including actors and others who are employed in non-traditional fields or on a project-by-project basis.

"Whether they are a future Tony Award winner, or an entrepreneur seeking to launch a new high-tech firm, thousands of budding young stars of tomorrow will benefit from this expansion of Healthy NY," Governor Pataki said. "This law will ensure the Healthy NY program is carefully tailored to meet the needs of our State's diverse working-uninsured population."

The changes are designed to broaden eligibility for the Healthy NY program to include New Yorkers who are employed in non-traditional fields or on a project-by-project basis. The legislation also ensures access to the Healthy NY program when a worker loses group health insurance coverage due to a loss in eligibility.

Senator Roy Goodman said, "The arts and entertainment industry is a critical component of the economy of New York City, but manypeople who work in it live from job to job and project to project. I warmly congratulate Governor Pataki for signing this new law that will make health insurance coverage available to New Yorkers employed in our diverse entertainment industry."

Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver said, "This legislation willfine-tune last year's historic HCRA agreement to include additional initiatives that were part of the Assembly's original HCRA proposal in June, 1999. It has always been the position of the Assembly Majority that, by working together in a bi-partisan manner, we can find ways to provide needed health care for more New Yorkers."

Joseph P. Benincasa, Executive Director of the The Actors' Fund of America said, "The Actors' Fund is so grateful to Governor Pataki for his efforts in making the HCRA 2000 programs, like Healthy NY, more accessible to the uninsured in the arts and entertainment industry. We'd also like to thank the Governor for his continued commitment to the members of our industry, and look forward to working together to bring affordable health insurance to everyone in our community."

State Insurance Department Superintendent Neil D. Levin said, "These amendments will allow even greater access to Healthy NY by recognizing that although actors may work varying periods of time, continuous health care coverage is always necessary.  The Healthy NY program will give hundreds-of-thousands of New York's hard working families the affordable, comprehensive insurance coverage they need."

The Healthy NY program was established as a part of the landmark Heath Care Reform Act of 2000. Beginning in January 2001, Healthy NY creates a new state-sponsored health insurance program for eligible small businesses with 50 or fewer employees and eligible working uninsured individuals.

The new program makes affordable health insurance benefits accessible for hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers by providing insurance coverage to eligible small businesses for their employees. Eligible working uninsured individuals can also purchase the same streamlined benefits package available to employees of small businesses. The benefits will be available initially through HMOs and other insurers approved by the State Insurance Department.

The amendments to HCRA:

  • Provide exceptions, under certain circumstances, to the requirement that applicants for Healthy New York have to have been uninsured for the preceding 12 months. Those individual proprietors who have lost employment or are survivors of a deceased member may now be eligible for the Healthy NY program.
  • Permit individuals who have lost eligibility for group coverage (such as that provided by the Screen Actors Guild, Actors Equity or AFTRA) because they are no longer working the required minimum hours, to be eligible for Healthy NY.

To accompany these changes, the State Insurance Department is moving forward with a regulation to include individuals undergoing "episodic employment" and to clarify that independent contractors and self-employed persons are "individual proprietors," making them potentially eligible for Healthy NY coverage.

New York State will initiate a multi-million dollar outreach and marketing plan to raise public awareness and rapidly enroll New Yorkers in this innovative program. For further information on the Healthy New York Program visit the Insurance Department's website at

Assemblyman Richard Gottfried said, "There are working people throughout New York State who lose access to health insurance coverage because the nature of their careers entails shifting from job to job or employment at a patchwork of part-time jobs. This legislation helps to level the playing field by giving many of them access to insurance coverage."

Assemblyman Scott Stringer said, "The arts and entertainment industry is central not just to New York's cultural life but also to the economic vitality of our city and state. Actors and others will now be able to build their careers here without having to forsake health coverage."

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