Some major business groups are railing against legislation that they say would give an unfair advantage to a growing New York City-based union that provides health insurance to its members, Gannett’s Albany Bureau reported today.
The state Business Council, the National Federation of Small Business and the state Health Plan Association are among the groups taking exception to a bill that would continue a health-insurance pilot program for the Freelancers Union.
They said the bill would give the union an exemption from taxes and allow for financial flexibility not provided to businesses and chambers of commerce that also offer health insurance.
“You have associations, organizations, chambers of commerce that provide health-care insurance now that are not being afforded this extension or any preferential treatment,” said Mike Durant, state director for the NFIB. “I think it’s inequitable.”
The union dismissed the criticism, saying the insurance they provide to 25,000 independent workers, mainly in New York City, would be jeopardized without the bill’s approval. The enrollment includes 3,000 members in the Hudson Valley and upstate, the union said.
“We really are part of this next workforce and where the economy is going,” said Sara Horowitz, the union’s executive director. “And it doesn’t fit neatly into the way we’ve been organizing things: as in large employer, small employer, individual.”
The union has received praise across the country for helping individual workers, including artists and entrepreneurs, receive affordable health care. The union said its premiums are on average 40 percent lower than in the open market.
The state Legislature in 2009 authorized a demonstration program through the end of 2013 for the union to provide health insurance to independent workers. The program was extended last year through 2014.
Changes to the federal Affordable Care Act in February prompted the need for new legislation to ensure the continuation of health insurance through the union, supporters said.
Here’s the opposition memo from the Health Plan Association, which represents health insurers: