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NY Commission approves controversial health insurance spike

31
Aug

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The New York State Athletic Commission unanimously agreed on Wednesday to adopt new health insurance measures that a number of promoters predict will harm boxing in the state and drastically reduce the number of shows there.

The vote was taken in a meeting that lasted all of 10 minutes at the Department of State offices in lower Manhattan; the approved regulations were part of the bill to legalize mixed martial arts in New York and include a measure to increase health insurance coverage for combat sports from $10,000 to $50,000 for basic medical coverage. The commission also approved required coverage in the amount of $1 million in the event of a serious head injury that promoters say is not affordable because they wouldn’t be able to pay for the $1 million insurance bond.

Interim commission chair Ndidi Massay also announced at the brief meeting that acting executive director Eric Bentley would be moved to the role of director of boxing and Anthony Giardina would be installed as the commission’s new interim executive director. Following the meeting on Wednesday, representatives of two of New York’s biggest promoters, attorney Alex Dombroff of Lou DiBella’s DiBella Entertainment and matchmaker Ron Katz of Joe DeGuardia’s Star Boxing sat down with Giardina, Bentley and Jim Leary, general counsel of the New York Department of State, to express their concern with the health insurance spike.

They pointed to the remainder of 2016, which is basically barren on the commission calendar for scheduled shows and expressed their intent to start promoting out of state because of the insurance costs. The commission apparently does have the discretion to amend the health insurance costs as they see fit, so there’s hope among the promoters that will happen in the near future. DiBella and DeGuardia both didn’t immediately respond to calls for comment.

The Department of State acknowledged the controversy surrounding the health insurance regulations in a statement on Wednesday after the measures were approved. “While some combative sports industry professionals expressed concern over the premiums for the $1 million coverage, these amounts are as yet determined,” the statement said. “However, from discussions with insurers about to enter the market, we believe the costs will be reasonable. Ultimately, the frequency and severity of life-threatening brain injuries incurred in New York State will drive the premiums. NYSAC believes the best way to keep premiums down is to keep injuries to a minimum.”

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