Freedom of information [FOIL] requests for information concerning health insurance plans

Freedom of information [FOIL] requests for information concerning health insurance plans Passino v Jefferson-Lewis CSD, 277 A.D.2d 1028 A number of school districts participate in "a municipal cooperative health benefit plan" [SEHP] in order to provide health insurance benefits to the employees and retirees of the participating districts. The plan had been established pursuant to a municipal cooperation agreement. Passino and another teacher covered under the health insurance plan demanded that SEHP provide it with certain information pursuant to the Freedom of Information Law [FOIL]. SEHP refused and the teachers sued. As it turned out, they won the battle but lost the war. First the Appellate Division ruled that SEHP is an "agency" subject to FOIL requests because it was created to benefit public employers by allowing them "to share, in whole or part, the costs of self-funding employee health benefit plans; provide … school districts and other public employers with an alternative approach to stabilize health claim costs; and enhance negotiating power with health providers by spreading such costs among a larger pool of risks" in accordance with Section 4701(a) of the Insurance Law." Because SEHP exists only to benefit public employers in their effort to provide health insurance to their employees, the court rejected SEHP's claim that it is "it is a private entity akin to a private insurance company." However, said the court, the records demanded by Passino are exempt from disclosure under FOIL because SEHP "is a commercial enterprise," and to permit disclosure of the records would "cause substantial injury to [its] competitive position," citing Encore College Bookstores v Auxiliary Service Corp., 87 NY2d 410.

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