NJ ASSEMBLY PANEL OKS BILL TO BLOCK INSURANCE CHANGES

NJ ASSEMBLY PANEL OKS BILL TO BLOCK INSURANCE CHANGES

An Assembly committee has approved a bill that would prevent several small- business health insurance changes enacted by Gov. Jim Florio from taking effect.

The new law, due to take effect Jan. 1, will affect businesses with 49 or fewer employees.One of the most controversial changes, which would be scrapped under the

revision, is a three-year introduction of community rating. Under community rating, insurers must charge similar rates to all customers, regardless of their potential risk.

But a spokesman for Gov. Florio said the bill, released Monday by the Assembly Insurance Committee, would be "a step backwards."

"Their changes would be all right if insurance were already affordable and accessible to everybody, but it's not," said Jon Shure, Gov. Florio's spokesman. "This bill puts the interests of insurance companies and lobbyists ahead of the public. The governor's hoping the public will make their voices heard and if they do, the bill will never be passed."