NYS Seal


Committee on Health
Richard N. Gottfried, Chair
Committee on Insurance
Alexander B. Grannis, Chair
Committee on Labor
Susan John, Chair

Subject: How to increase health insurance coverage in New York State

Friday, December 8, 2006, 11:00 AM
Legislative Office Building,
Roosevelt Hearing Room C, 2nd Floor

New York City:
Tuesday, December 12, 2006, 10:00 AM
American Red Cross in Greater New York
520 West 49th St., New York, NY

What happens to families when workers aren't offered health coverage through their jobs or can't afford it? Those with incomes that are low enough may turn to publicly-funded health coverage, or receive free or reduced cost care from a local hospital or clinic, which can increase costs for those who do have coverage. The remainder face the harsh realities of our health care system: premature death and other poor outcomes due to the lack of preventative and therapeutic care, back-breaking medical debt and bankruptcy. Paying for health coverage is a heavy burden for many employers, and employers who do not provide coverage often have a competitive advantage over those who do. The problems of the uninsured and problems of those who have health coverage under our current system are key issues for the Legislature and the new governor.

Recent statistics have some good news for New Yorkers: the percentage of state residents without health coverage fell in the last few years, while the percentage for the U.S. rose. But 2.6 million New Yorkers still have no health coverage, and the growth in health coverage in New York is primarily due to increased enrollment in publicly-funded health programs such as Medicaid, Child Health Plus and particularly Family Health Plus, which began enrollment in 2002 and is growing. But private-sector employees continue to lose health coverage at work. The percentage of private-sector employees in New York who have health coverage through their jobs fell from 55.0% to 52.5%, well below the national average

Since then-Assembly Member Alfred E. Smith first introduced a universal health care proposal in 1915, New Yorkers have attempted to address the problem of the uninsured. Currently, there are several pieces of legislation on the topic, including: creating universal, publicly-sponsored health coverage, with broad-based public financing (like Medicare or Child Health Plus, but for everyone); levying an assessment on all employers, or only larger employers, to offset the public's cost of caring for the uninsured, with a credit against the assessment for employers who provide health benefits for their employees; allowing employers to purchase public health insurance coverage for their employees; and expanding Healthy New York. Recent legislation in Maine, Vermont, and Massachusetts may also offer concepts to consider.

These hearings seek to evaluate these and other proposals, to determine what steps the state should take to ensure that New Yorkers have access to the health care system and that the costs of health care are fairly and efficiently distributed.

Persons wishing to attend or present testimony at this hearing should complete and return the reply form as soon as possible, but no later than December 4 for the Albany hearing or December 7 for the New York City hearing. It is important the form be fully completed and returned so persons may be notified in the event of postponement or cancellation of the hearing.

Oral testimony will be limited to ten minutes in length. All testimony is under oath. In preparing the order of witnesses, the Committee will attempt to accommodate individual requests to speak at particular times in view of special circumstances. This request should be made on the reply form or communicated to Committee staff as soon as possible. Ten copies of any prepared statement should be submitted at the hearing registration table.

In order to meet the needs of those who may have a disability, the New York State Assembly, in accordance with its policy of non-discrimination on the basis of disability, as well as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), has made its facilities and services available to all individuals with disabilities. For individuals with disabilities, accommodations will be provided, upon reasonable request, to afford such individuals access and admission to Assembly facilities and activities.

Questions about this hearing may be directed to Bryan O'Malley of the Assembly Committee on Health at 518-455-4941 (omalleb@assembly.state.ny.us) or Peter Newell of the Assembly Insurance Committee at 518-455-5676 (newellp@assembly.state.ny.us).


Please respond by December 4 for the Albany hearing or December 7 for the New York City hearing.

Mail to: Assembly Committee on Health, Legislative Office Building, Rm. 822, Albany, NY, 12248
Or fax to: 518-455-5939

box I plan to testify at the


Albany hearing Friday, December 8


New York City hearing Tuesday, December 12

box I plan to attend, but not testify at, the


Albany hearing Friday, December 8


New York City hearing Tuesday, December 12


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