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From the Desk of Senator Craig Johnson: August 20, 2009

Legislation to Extend Some Health Insurance

Important legislation that will improve access to affordable health insurance for young adults between the ages of 19 and 29 recently passed the Senate and has been signed into law by the Governor, Senator Craig M. Johnson, (D-Nassau), announced.

This bill, (S.6030), requires commercial insurers, non-profit corporations and HMOs to offer an option for unmarried young adults through age 29, regardless of financial dependence, to continue under a parent’s group health insurance policy. It also extends a COBRA-like benefit to this young adult population.

Previously, many young adults lost their health insurance due to an inability to continue to be covered by their parents’ plan at 19, or upon graduating from college at the age of 23. Faced with either no access to health insurance of their own, or with prohibitively expensive coverage, many in this age group went without any health coverage.

Senator Johnson notes that 31 percent of New York State’s uninsured falls within this age bracket.

“This problem is even more pronounced in Long Island and other parts of the state where the high cost of living has caused many young adults to choose between rent and their health,” said Senator Johnson, who is a member of the Senate Insurance Committee. “This is a common-sense measure that will allow parents, if they have the resources, to continue to assist their children, while at the same time helping to combat this epidemic of the uninsured.”

This legislation will take effect Sept. 1.

Urging Governor to Sign Public Authority Reform Bill

Senator Craig M. Johnson (D-Nassau) urged Governor Paterson to sign landmark legislation that will bring unprecedented scrutiny and accountability to New York’s authority system.

“These shadow governments that have access to literally billions of taxpayer dollars and currently have the ability to take on new debt with minimal oversight,” Senator Johnson said. “Every year we see new examples of fiscal mismanagement, abuse, and outright scandal that directly stem from the free reign and lack of public accountability that these entities operate under.”

The Legislature passed reform legislation that would:

Empower State Comptroller Tom DiNapoli with the duty to approve any authority contract that is more than $1 million;

Create strict new rules to control public authority debt;

Create an Office of Authorities Oversight that would have jurisdiction over authority budgets;

Codify the fiduciary duties of board members;

Prohibit the creation of subsidiary authorities without legislative approval;

Strengthen rules on the disposition of public authority property;

Offer whistleblower protections to authority employees who expose wrongdoing.

Recently, officials from Nassau University Medical Center contacted the governor and, while stating that the goals behind the legislation were laudable, requested a chapter amendment clarifying that this bill did not extend to public hospitals. These hospitals are already highly regulated and, unlike other authorities, have to compete with private healthcare institutions.

Senator Johnson said he supports this effort, and restated his strong support of the authority reform bill.

“This measure will ensure that, especially in this difficult economic climate, these authorities’ spending practices are brought under control,” Senator Johnson said. “I am hopeful that the governor follows the Senate and the Assembly’s lead and signs this bill into law.”