WCA pushes for legislative action in 2016 to prevent the collapse of additional insurers
The failure of Health Republic Insurance of New York has resulted in devastating financial losses for hospitals, physician groups and other healthcare providers in Westchester County and across New York State. The Westchester County Association has urged lawmakers to create legislation in the 2016 Legislative Session that would prevent the collapse of another insurer and has called for the creation of a fund that would cover the debt owed to healthcare providers for services rendered under the Health Republic insurance plan.
“Healthcare is the biggest economic engine in Westchester and the region, and it is incumbent upon all of us to keep it financially sound,” said WCA President & CEO, William M. Mooney, Jr. at a hearing called by the NYS Committee on Health, New York Senate, in Albany. “The collapse of Health Republic has cost our region’s employers millions in lost payments, and the fact is, the state should have seen it coming.”
The WCA communicated their concerns in a letter to Senator Kemp Hannon, Chair of the New York State Committee on Health, which was read at the state Senate Standing Committee on Health and Insurance meeting held Wednesday in Albany. The WCA detailed the negative impacts of the loss of capital—estimated to be over $100 million in uncompensated payments—on major employers in Westchester and the region. Employers now face increased pressure to reduce spending and headcounts, said Mooney, and the possibility of increasing employee healthcare premiums this year. They may also be reluctant to participate in future exchange programs due to risk, he added.
Protections needed for patients and physicians
“The Health Republic model was unsustainable from the beginning and should have had much more State oversight. It is the Department of Financial Service’s regulatory role to assure that health plans are financially sound when setting rates, and not bow to political pressure to put forth an unsustainable product,” he said.
In order to provide relief to healthcare employers in Westchester, the WCA is now pushing lawmakers to use state dollars set aside to bail out failing hospitals in New York to set up a guarantee fund to reimburse providers, and to set up a safety net for patients enrolled in co-op plans and for physicians who provide services under these plans.
This latest government advocacy effort builds on the WCA’s decade-long history of leadership of advocating on behalf of the healthcare community. With the creation of its Blue Ribbon Task Force on Healthcare in 2005, and later, the Hudson Valley Healthcare Consortium, the WCA launched a campaign to drive economic vitality in healthcare in the Hudson Valley. Today, the healthcare industry is the Hudson Valley’s largest economic engine, contributing more than $15 billion to the regional economy. The WCA has played a significant role in the sector’s growth, through legislative advocacy, collaborative partnerships, and economic development initiatives.