Senate OKs Health Ins Mandate Bill

The state senate has approved legislation sponsored by Sen. James L. Seward (R-C-I/Milford) that would create a state panel to review proposed health insurance mandated benefits to analyze their costs and impact on the cost of health insurance. Senate bill 3020 was approved by the senate unanimously. "Almost three million New Yorkers do not have health insurance, and for others, its rapidly escalating cost is putting affordable health coverage out of reach," Seward said. "Over the years the legislature has enacted legislation requiring that health insurance cover more than 30 different services, treatments and providers, and they all come with a cost." The legislation establishes the "health care quality and cost containment commission," the purpose of which is to analyze and report on the impact of proposed health insurance mandates. It would be charged with a) investigating the current practices of health plans; b) evaluating potential premium impact as well as avoided costs; c) analysis of current medical thinking to determine the mandate's affect on health care quality. The 2006-07 state budget includes a $300,000 appropriation for the commission, which would be included in the state insurance department. "Studies have shown that coverage of mandated services has increased premiums by 12 percent," Seward said. "And every one percent jump in insurance premiums means that 30,000 New Yorkers lose their health insurance. The commission will review mandates and advise the legislature on their estimated costs so that the legislature can make an informed decision on a particular mandate bill." The measure is sponsored in the assembly by Alexander "Pete" Grannis. "The best health insurance coverage is of no value if no one is able to afford it," Seward said.

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