A bill that transfers the cost of services for developmentally disabled infants and toddlers from public funds to health insurers now heads to New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s desk.
Should he sign it, a group of insurers and businesses say it’ll mean a $40 million increase in costs to cover insured New Yorkers.
Supporters of the bill, Senate Bill 5560/Assembly Bill 5339, say the funding is needed as early intervention services are essential for children up to age 3 who are identified as having a developmental disability or disability.
State Sen. Elijah Reichlin-Melnick, D-Nyack, the Senate bill sponsor, said several providers have closed because of a lack of funding, and others may not be taking new patients.
“Each passing moment your child doesn’t receive the therapy would have dire implications on their brain function and their performance for the rest of their lives,” Reichlin-Melnick said on the Senate floor in Albany last week.
It passed the Senate with bipartisan support by a 53-10 margin.
According to a memo filed by Reichlin-Melnick and Assemblymember Amy Paulin (D-Scarsdale), the Assembly bill’s sponsor, said the state currently covers 97 percent of the early intervention program costs. Under the bill, commercial insurers would go from paying 3 percent to about 15 percent.
The funding will come from an increase in the covered lives assessment, a fee health insurance providers pay based on the number of lives they cover and where those individuals live. According to the New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans, plans were assessed $1 billion in 2019.
Assessments range widely by region. According to The Empire Center, insurers are charged $9.20 per covered person in Utica-Watertown. In New York City, the charge is $171.67 per person.
Those fees are then passed on to businesses and individuals with private insurance through premiums.
The conference was one of 10 business groups that wrote a letter last week to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins, D-Yonkers, and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, D-Bronx, urging them not to pass that bill and another that mandated new benefits.
“Increases in assessments exacerbate the challenge employers, particularly small businesses, face to make high-quality, affordable coverage available to their employees and funding EI through a covered lives assessment will add to their costs,” the groups wrote.
This article was originally posted on New York lawmakers pass bill to require insurers to pay for services for developmentally disabled toddlers, infants