Poughkeepsie… Dutchess County Executive William R. Steinhaus in a letter this week urged state lawmakers to adopt insurance reforms proposed by Governor Spitzer to ensure commercial health insurers provide coverage for children’s early intervention health services.
The County Executive said, “Funding for this important children’s service is intended to come from the state, counties as well as commercial insurers. Unfortunately for taxpayers, loopholes in the current law allow for-profit commercial insurers to unfairly shift their payment responsibility to local property taxpayers. In Dutchess County, a total of $860,000 was billed to commercial insurers in 2005, but only $120,000 (14%) was paid. This has to change and property taxpayers need their senators and assembly members to stand up for them and force insurance companies to live up to their payment responsibilities.”
Early Intervention is a critical health program that provides services to infants and toddlers who have developmental delays or disabilities. It provides evaluation, service coordination, special instruction, speech, occupational and physical therapies and other services.
Public Health Law mandates that counties pursue third party reimbursement prior to seeking state aid for Early Intervention Program services. Private health insurance companies have rejected an overwhelming majority of reimbursement claims, transferring the burden to property taxpayers.
County Executive Steinhaus stated, “Early Intervention is essential to making sure our infants and toddlers get on the right developmental path. Private health insurance companies must stop shifting their responsibility to county taxpayers. I agree with Governor Spitzer that it is time for insurance companies to pay their fair share.”
County Executive Steinhaus concluded by calling on legislators “to act now to sustain this critical children’s program and be sure it’s the insurance companies, not taxpayers, carrying their fair share.”