Lieutenant Governor Robert Duffy today announced that Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed a bill that will help provide health insurance coverage to former employees of Eastman Kodak. The new law, which was unanimously passed by both the Senate and Assembly, authorizes the Department of Financial Services to approve a demonstration program to provide experience rated health insurance coverage to retired Eastman Kodak employees. The new law takes effect immediately and has no fiscal impact on the State.
"Some of these employees have dedicated the majority of their careers to Kodak, and they should have options for their health insurance coverage," said Governor Cuomo. "This new law will enable an insurance company to provide retired employees with the option for experience rated health insurance coverage. I thank Senator Robach and Assemblyman Morelle for their hard work on this legislation."
This legislation establishes a health insurance demonstration program for former employees of Eastman Kodak, a company headquartered in New York State that has been in operation for over 100 years. Under the bill, Benjamin Lawsky, Superintendent of the Department of Financial Services, can authorize an insurance company to offer former employees of Kodak experience rated health coverage. This means premium rates would be based on the claims experience of the covered former employees.
Currently, New York State Insurance Law requires individual and small group health insurance policies and contracts to be community rated. A policy issued to an association group that consists of individual members of an association is considered a small group health insurance policy and must be community rated. If a group policy or contract is subject to community rating, then their premium must be the same as the premium rate charged to all other groups holding the same policy in the same region. The bill would exempt the group from being considered a small group under the Insurance Law. As such, the group health insurance policy issued does not need to be community rated during demonstration program. The former employees in the group would be able to maintain the status quo by keeping their existing package of benefits at a premium rate that is based upon the collective claims experience of that one group.
Senator Joe Robach, co-sponsor of the bill, said, "From the beginning, the goal was to try to comprehensively protect people at Kodak who could lose their health insurance before being eligible for Medicare. This legislation, which was crafted based on Kodak retirees input, will give them this protection by providing an opportunity to get coverage at a good rate from competing insurers. I thank the Governor for sharing my commitment to resolving an issue that impacts so many lives."
Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, co-sponsor of the bill, said, "This year's changes at Kodak have created uncertainty for thousands of former employees. We still don't know what the impact of bankruptcy will be in terms of health care benefits, and that's why we've creating a safety net to protect these hard-working people and give them the security and peace of mind they have earned. I want to thank Speaker Silver, Governor Cuomo and my colleagues in both houses for their support, and especially Senator Robach for his partnership in making this a reality."