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Empire Blue Publishes Ad Asking New York Legislature To Let It Convert

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NU Online News Service, Aug. 22, 12:26 p.m. – Empire HealthChoice Inc., New York, the parent company of Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield, has published a full-page advertisement in The New York Times pleading with members of the state legislature and Gov. George Pataki to enact a law that would allow it to convert to for-profit status.

Under New York law, Empire is a nonprofit company that holds its assets in trust for the people of the state.

Empire offered five years ago to compensate the public for converting for-profit status by contributing about $1 billion — the estimated value of the company — to a health care foundation.

Before Empire can go ahead with the proposal, the legislature needs to enact legislation authorizing the conversion. One section of the legislation would determine how the new health care foundation should use its income.

Failing to enact conversion legislation this year could lead to a delay of two years or more, Empire complains in the Timesad, which is written as an open letter addressed to Pataki, a Republican; state Sen. Joseph Bruno, R-Raymond, N.Y.; and state Assemblyman Sheldon Silver, D-New York.

“Empire has had 10 public hearings on this issue,” Empire declares in the Times ad. “The only significant reason we can see for a delay at this point is an inability to agree on how to divide the foundation’s income. This is not an issue Empire can resolve, only you can resolve it. If you cannot agree on how to divide the $1 billion in foundation proceeds, then let the legislation pass, create one or more foundations, and let the foundation boards make the decision.”


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