The growing Freelancers Union, which provides health insurance to more than 25,000 independent workers in New York, received a boost today when Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed legislation that continues its health-insurance pilot program.
Some major business groups had protested the legislation, saying it gives an unfair advantage to the union by giving it flexibility from the federal health-care law.
The measure, though, had powerful sponsors: Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, D-Manhattan, and Senate Health Committee chairman Kemp Hannon, R-Nassau County.
The union has garnered national attention because it has been able to pull its resources and provide health insurance that’s on average 40 percent lower than on the open market, mainly to artists and entrepreneurs.
The state Legislature in 2009 authorized a demonstration program through the end of 2013 for the union. The program was extended last year through 2014, but it needed to be changed to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.
The pilot program will still continue through 2014.
Updated: Silver put out a statement thanking Cuomo for signing the bill.
“More and more businesses are relying on independent contractors to meet the constantly changing demands of consumers. To ensure that our economy continues to grow, we need to provide flexible options for businesses while ensuring that employees are provided access to affordable health care,” Silver said.
“In 2009, New York was one of the first states in the nation to authorize a demonstration program to provide health insurance coverage to independent workers. The creation of the self-funded Freelancers Health Plan provides not only a crucial benefit at affordable rates, but peace of mind to working families as well.”