Today the Empire Center released a report that concludes that the recent collapse of Health Republic (the health insurance co-op established under the ACA) which disrupted coverage for 215,000 New Yorkers, was a result, in large-part, to failures by the state and the Department of Financial Services (DFS). The report states that DFS took no obvious steps to address serious and glaring financial problems at Health Republic and instead used its regulatory power of prior-approval of health premiums to further lower Health Republic’s inadequate premiums.
Consistent with the position that The Business Council has often opined, the report concludes that DFS needs to concentrate more on plan solvency. We believe the goal of making health coverage more affordable is best achieved by the removal of high taxes and unfunded mandates, rather than the imposition of price controls through a politicized prior-approval regime. The Empire Center’s report can be found The Empire Center’s report can be found here.
The Buffalo News has a terrific piece in today’s paper examining the ways restaurateurs are preparing for the significant worker wage increase coming into effect next year. Tipped worker wages are set to rise by 50 percent, from $5.00 an hour all the way to $7, come January 1st. That’s squeezing already tight profit margins and forcing management to cut hours, raise prices and consider more upcharges.
From The Buffalo News: “Betty’s is a long-established neighborhood favorite on Virginia Street in Buffalo. In anticipation of the new wage law, it has increased prices by between 50 cents and $1.50 per item, and will probably do it again in a few months. The strategy is to soften the blow with two smaller, separate increases, said Carole Simon, a Betty’s co-owner.
The price increase would have been steeper, but the restaurant tried to avoid that by cutting costs elsewhere. It has altered its hours to cut down on payroll costs, opening a half-hour later and closing a half-hour earlier. It has removed two popular but time-consuming dishes from the menu – the jibarito plantain sandwich and the spinach potato pancakes. And it has pared dishes down to their basic elements, listing them with upcharges for extras. That way, customers have the option of ordering the basic eggs, home fries and toast for $5.50, or they can upgrade to vegan sausage and gluten-free bread if they’re willing to pay more.”
Remember this when advocates for a $15 an hour minimum wage for all workers say The Business Council and other business groups are wrong when we predict wage increases will negatively impact the economy and cost jobs.
Learn more about our fight against a $15 an hour minimum wage by visiting www.minimumwagerealitycheck.com.
In a fascinating and thorough state-by-state study of public health, conducted by UnitedHealth Foundation (a charitable foundation of The Business Council member UnitedHealth) and the American Public Health Association, New York State climbs in the rankings to #13. According to the report, New York adults are becoming a bit more physically active and our state’s obesity figures have slightly decreased.
While there is certainly room for improvement, New York’s climbing in the ranks represents a move in the right direction for all New Yorkers, especially employers who are always looking to help better the health of their employees. The study can be found here.