The New York State Senate this week passed a package of legislation to make it less expensive and more efficient to do business in New York. The measures include those that reverse a costly regulatory change that is driving up health care expenses for some employers and employees, require the state to pay businesses in a timely manner, as well as review and reduce outdated regulations that negatively affect New York businesses.

A bill (S7104) sponsored by Senator James L. Seward (R-C-I, Oneonta) helps businesses facing significantly higher health care costs as a result of state regulations that took effect earlier this year by redefining what constitutes a “small group employer”.

Senate Insurance Committee Chairman Seward said, “The federal Affordable Care Act created various unintended consequences that both businesses and consumers continue to run up against. My legislation would help clear up one of those costly regulatory hurdles for mid-sized employers and help them continue to offer affordable health insurance benefits to their workers.”

A small business has historically been defined in New York as an employer with 50 or fewer employees, but the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) defined “small group” employers as those having 100 or fewer employees. Since New York took the required action to conform its definition of small business with the ACA’s larger number, businesses with 51-100 employees have experienced substantial increases in health care premiums or subscriber costs; higher deductibles and co-pays; fewer available policy choices from insurance carriers or health plans; and narrower in- and out-of-network provider panels.

This measure would prevent these problems from affecting these businesses by reverting the definition of “small group” in New York’s insurance law back to 1-50 employees. While federal legislation has been enacted allowing states to make such a change in implementing the ACA, each state individually must do so. Only New York, California, Colorado, and Vermont have not yet adopted the change.

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