A new law signed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Wednesday will allow insurers to compete to provide health care coverage for Eastman Kodak Co. retirees should their current plans be dropped.
The law will require insurers to seek state approval to offer coverage for the former workers of Kodak, the Rochester-based photography and imaging company that filed for bankruptcy in January. Within 120 days, the state Department of Financial Services can approve a provider based on the bids.
“Some of these employees have dedicated the majority of their careers to Kodak, and they should have options for their health insurance coverage,” Cuomo said in a statement.
The bill would allow the insurer to offer “experience rated” coverage for the retirees, meaning the premium rates would be based on the workers’ past claims rather than what other groups in the region are charged.
Those over the age of 65 — who are eligible for Medicare — would not be included.
Health-insurance providers had pushed back against a previous version of the bill earlier this year, which passed the state Senate in May and would have given exclusive bargaining rights to Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield.
Several insurers objected, including MVP Health Care, and the bill was amended before it passed the Assembly to allow for competition.
“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,” said Sen. Joseph Robach, R-Greece, Monroe County, who sponsored the bill.
Assemblyman Joseph Morelle, D-Irondequoit, Monroe County, sponsored the bill in his chamber.
“We still don’t know what the impact of bankruptcy will be in terms of health care benefits, and that’s why we’ve created a safety net to protect these hard-working people and give them the security and peace of mind they have earned,” Morelle said.