WCA continues to fight against health insurance companies

Opposition of State IDR bill
JUNE 7, 2019

June 6, 2019

MEMO IN OPPOSTION S.3171  IDR bill

The Westchester County Association (WCA) is an economic development and public policy organization representing the business and non-profit community in our county.  Collectively, our membership represents hundreds of organizations and several hundred thousand employees.  We have long recognized that the healthcare sector is the most important economic driver in our region, contributing almost $18 billion in economic benefit and employing over 50,000.

The current legislation, S.3171, under consideration by the New York State Senate is a very unwise bill.  This proposed legislation would allow insurance companies to submit hospital out-of-network emergency bills to an independent dispute resolution (IDR) process.  During the IDR process, insurers could pay hospitals whatever they deem “reasonable” for emergency out-of-network card.  This bill is nothing less than a gift to insurance companies, who already have the upper hand with both providers and consumers.  Some of the more salient reasons to oppose this legislation include:

  • By allowing insurers in out-of-network emergency situations to simply pay hospitals what they deem “reasonable”, the bill would eliminate the current incentive for insurers to include hospitals in their networks. This could result in increasingly narrow networks which reduces choice for their enrollees.  Attractive health insurance benefits are offered by most employers as a way to recruit top talent and this bill threatens to undermine that.  In a tight labor market such as we are facing today, this will make New York employers less competitive.
  • This bill will force hospitals- which already suffer from inadequate Medicare and Medicaid rates-to take unacceptably low payments from private insurers. This will further harm New York State’s financially including pubic hospitals and financially distressed hospitals.
  • Patients with insurance are already protected as NY State law includes safeguards to ensure patients aren’t hit with huge bills, known as “surprise billing”. Under the law, a health plan must ensure that an insured patient can never be charge out-of-pocket for more than what they would pay for in-network services.
  • Insurance companies have engaged in long-standing patterns of bad behavior which negatively affects providers, employers and patients. The WCA has a long history of arguing before the legislature of New York State for bills that reform the practiced of managed care companies, many of which were successfully passed.

In summary, it is critical that legislation is not driven by the large national for-profit insurers who only value profit and shareholder value.  Our not-for-profit hospitals in New York State clearly have a very different mission, namely taking care of people and saving lives.  I would challenge anyone who thinks that the for-profit managed care companies, of which less than 10 control the entire U.S. market, care more about the health and well being of their members than they do about shareholder results.  In fact, I am sure everyone of your constituents can cite cases where the action of their or a loved one’s health insurance provider hindered them from receiving the care they needed.  Unlike hospitals, which contribute enormously back to the community, health insurance companies provide very little economic or social benefit.  In fact, it’s quite the contrary.

For all of these reasons, the Westchester County Association strongly opposes this bill and urges the Senate to reject S.3171.  I would like to thank our Westchester Assembly delegation members Abinanti, Buchwald, Byrne, Galef, Pretlow, Sayegh, Paulin for standing up for non-profit hospitals and their patients against big, for-profit insurance companies.

Sincerely,

William M. Mooney, Jr.

President & CEO