by Rick Seltzer
Gov. Andrew Cuomo has ordered state agencies to set up a health-benefit exchange in New York that will meet requirements in the federal government’s 2010 health-care reform law.
Cuomo issued an executive order yesterday calling for the exchange, which will be designed to act as a marketplace where individuals and small businesses can buy health insurance. It will aim to lower insurance costs.
“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,” Cuomo said in a news release. “Establishing the health exchange will bring true competition into the health-care marketplace, driving costs down across the state.”
The governor’s office estimates that individuals buying coverage from the exchange will slash their health-care costs by 66 percent. It estimates that small businesses will cut their health-insurance costs by 22 percent by using the exchange.
The federal government will finance the exchange until 2015. At that point, the federal health-care reform law requires that it be self sustaining.
Cuomo’s executive order comes before several deadlines tied to the creation of the exchange. The federal health-reform law mandates that state-operated exchanges begin operation by Jan. 1, 2014. It also requires states to demonstrate by Jan. 1, 2013 that their exchanges will be ready for operation by the 2014 deadline.
The law gives the federal government the authority to set up exchanges in states that do not act on their own.
Cuomo’s order also comes before the U.S. Supreme Court issues a ruling on whether the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the federal health-reform law providing for the exchanges, is constitutional.
The Supreme Court heard arguments on the law in March. It is expected to rule on the case later this year.
State Sen. Greg Ball, a Republican from Putnam County, came out against Cuomo’s executive order yesterday.
“With the fundamental constitutionality of the overall looming program in immediate question and the presidency hanging in the balance, there is zero need to build an initial framework for a large and expensive government program that may never get off of the ground,” Ball said in a statement.
Some groups supported the move.
“Gov. Cuomo’s action to move forward and create this exchange will benefit the people of New York State and its hospitals and health-care providers by reducing the number of uninsured and underinsured New Yorkers,” said Daniel Sisto, president of the Healthcare Association of New York State, a statewide hospital and continuing-care association. (ARTICLE)