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Empire BlueCross BlueShield Fears Senate Health Care Reform Legislation Still Costs New Yorkers Most
Date:12/21/2009

NEW YORK, Dec. 21 /PRNewswire/ -- Mark Wagar, President and CEO of Empire BlueCross BlueShield urged further improvement to the federal health care reform legislation that today does little to control the rising costs of health care and will increase premiums for too many New Yorkers and too many across the nation.

"We urge Congress to not support a bill that will further increase the underlying costs of health care premiums that New York residents pay while, at the same time, subsidizing other states," added Wagar. Additionally, Wagar offers specific congressional actions that will make the most difference to New Yorkers, including:

  • Reducing taxes for those already paying for health benefits and not starting taxes until reform changes take effect
  • A stronger individual mandate for a more basic, minimum benefit package -- potentially reducing New Yorker individual premiums by more than 60 percent
  • Greater investment in real cost and quality improvement measures for health care providers
  • Reducing the disproportional impact of Medicaid cost shifts to the state of New York
  • Addressing the disproportionate share of Medicare cuts New York beneficiaries will shoulder

On Saturday, the United States Senate Majority released its "Manager's Amendment" to the health care reform legislation currently being debated in the U.S. Senate. One provision in the amendment included a multi-billion annual tax that will be levied on the health insurance industry. As stated by the Congressional Budget Office, this tax will get passed on to consumers through higher premiums. The amendment specifically provides that a few not-for-profit health insurance companies will be exempt from this tax -- in essence leaving for-profit plans and most not-for-profit plans and their members, to shoulder the entire tax burden.

What does this mean to the nearly 17 million New Yorkers who have private
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SOURCE Empire BlueCross BlueShield
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