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September 1, 2002

Dear New Yorker:

Since 1995, one of Governor Patakiís top priorities has been the introduction of meaningful and practical health insurance reform for all New Yorkers. For example, landmark legislation-such as the Point-of-Service Law of 1995, the Managed Care Reform Act of 1996, the Womenís Health and Cancer Rights Act of 1997, and 1998 legislation guaranteeing consumers a right to external reviews of health insurers coverage decisions-were all signed into law by the Governor. The Insurance Department and Health Department play major roles the implementation of these key initiatives.

Governor Pataki and the Legislature have also exhibited leadership in addressing New York Stateís uninsured population through Child Health Plus, Family Health Plus and the Healthy NY programs. Healthy NY, a state-sponsored health insurance program designed to ensure that affordable health benefits are accessible to New York Stateís small business owners and working uninsured individuals, was launched January 1, 2002. The Healthy NY program puts quality health insurance within reach of hundreds of thousands of small business owners and uninsured workers.

The interactive New York Consumer Guide to HMOs contains a ranking of all major HMOs in New York State by upheld complaints. This Guide also contains important information from the Department of Health on measures of treatment and other indicators of an HMOís quality of care. In addition, the Guide includes information on New York Stateís external review requests made to each HMO last year as well as percentage that were decided in the consumerís favor.

The goal behind the empowerment of health insurance consumers with this new and important information is simple: every citizen should have opportunity to compare HMOs on major quality of care and consumer service factors. The features of this report are accurate and timely and can be of genuine value to you and your family when making health coverage choices. Iím sure you will find the guide to be a valuable resource.

Very truly yours,
Gregory V. Serio
Superintendent of Insurance
Antonia C. Novello, M.D., M.P.H., Dr. P.H.
Commissioner of Health