Memorandum in Opposition

For Immediate Release: January 27, 2022

Re:      S.7501 (Hinchey) / A.7408-A (Gottfried) – AN ACT to amend the public health law, in relation to financial responsibility for human post-exposure treatment for rabies.

This legislation, S.7501/A.7408-A, would require health insurance plans to cover the costs of post-exposure treatment for rabies when authorized by a county health authority. The New York Health Plan Association (HPA) opposes this legislation that seek to shift health care costs from local governments onto privately insured New Yorkers.

County health departments are statutorily required to provide post-exposure treatment to anyone who may have been exposed to rabies within their jurisdiction. This bill would have health insurance absorb the costs associated with rabies exposure – from testing through treatment if someone is found to be positive.

While rabies is a serious infectious disease, human contact with a rabid animal is fairly rare and of those humans where there has been contact, the number of positive cases is very low according to data tracked by the New York State Department of Health. In 2018 and 2019, there was a combined total of 3,225 cases of human exposure, and of those, 111 cases tested positive.[1] According to the sponsors of the bill, the costs of treatment ranges from about $1,200-$6,500 per exposure.

Shifting these costs from local governments to private insurance would increase insurance premiums, making health insurance more expensive for individuals and small businesses across the state. At a time when many New Yorkers are struggling to afford the health insurance coverage they have, this bill is ill advised. We urge you to say no to S.7501/A.7408-A.

[1] NYS Department of Health, Wadsworth Center; Rabies Reports; Annual Summary 2018-2019;