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Cuomo Gets 'Fireworks,' Cost Concerns, After Executive Order to Establish Exchange

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New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo is being heralded as brave for moving forward to set up a statewide health exchange by executive decree after legislation continued to flounder in the state legislature with Republican opposition.

The Executive Order allows for regional advisory committees of all stakeholder representatives to make recommendations on the establishment and operation of the Exchange and will be established in the state Department of Health.

The Department of Health, in conjunction with the Department of Financial Services and other state agencies, are all charged with taking the necessary steps to create and operate the Exchange under the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA).

“The bottom line is that creating this health exchange will lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses, local governments, and individual New Yorkers across the state. The sky-high cost of insurance in New York is driving businesses out of the state and preventing lower income New Yorkers from being able to afford needed coverage,” Governor Cuomo said.

States across the nation have made varying steps or lurches toward an exchange. This step marks a unique attempt by a governor to seize control of the issue from the state legislature, where efforts can be stymied in very partisan debate. See our interactive map here:

Health Care Reform For All New York (HCFANY) exclaimed on its website, “He did it!!!” under a photograph of fireworks.

Vincent C. Ashton, President & Chief Executive Officer of HealthPass New York, which serves approximately 3,800 businesses and about 30,000 employees and dependents in the New York City metropolitan area, called the executive order “courageous,” and said he was “inspired by his leadership.”

Not all were enthralled, especially the Republican leadership in the state Senate.

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, does not see cost savings but more spending the state can ill afford. He issued a statement that said “any rush towards enacting Obamacare is more political than reality. The promise of federal funding is not without strings and the program itself will ultimately, if enacted, cost New York taxpayers billions of additional dollars that we do not have. …. We can and should make landmark reforms, including reigning in big insurance in New York, but moving forward now to enact Obamacare is simply not prudent.”

Mr. Ashton added, “The Governor’s courageous Executive Order has opened the path to a New York State Health Benefits Exchange. We are inspired by his leadership, and now that this path has been established, the hard work begins. As with all complex projects, ‘the devil is in the details.’

Cuomo’s press release was filled with supporting statements from executives with the American Cancer Society, the New York Hospital Association, Excellus Blue Cross Blue Shield and AARP New York, to name several.

As states are sometimes (painfully) aware, a state that chooses to operate its own Exchange must demonstrate to the federal government, by January 1, 2013, that its Exchange will be able to begin accepting applications by October 1, 2013, and will be operational by January 1, 2014, and if the state does not demonstrate operational readiness of its own Exchange, its residents will be required to participate in a federal Exchange.


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