by Casey Seiler
Sens. Greg Ball and Liz Krueger debated the state’s creation of a health benefit exchange, one of the major items left dangling at the end of the 2011 legislative session, on Susan Arbetter’s “Capitol Pressroom” on Wednesday morning. Depending on who you talk to, the exchange — required by the federal Health Care Reform Act — is either the camel’s nose under the tent of Obamacare or an absolutely necessary resource to reduce the cost of health insurance for small businesses.
As reported by the TU’s Cathleen Crowley last week, New York secured the first phase of federal funding that will aid in the creation of the exchanges, although resistance from Ball and other Senate GOP members scotched a deal reached among the Assembly, Gov. Andrew Cuomo and moderate Republican senators such as James Seward and Kemp Hannon.
As Crowley reported in early June, there were two competing blueprints for the exchanges. The one that ended up getting passed by the Assembly later that month reflected the more limited powers preferred by Senate Republicans.
Ball called the potential creation of the health exchanges “a huge federal unfunded mandate” that lacked urgency — and might turn out to be a moot point if President Barack Obama is booted from office in 2012. He noted that New York’s health care entitlements are the nation’s highest.
Krueger disagreed, and said that the health exchanges have nothing to do with the state’s Medicaid benefit. “We’re cutting off our nose to spite our face,” she said, arguing that time was indeed of the essence if New York wanted to glean as much federal funding as possible.
“This is going to take us time — you do not change your system of health insurance and access to health care on the drop of a dime,” she said. “The states that start earlier are going to reap the rewards of broader, more cost-effective health insurance and health care sooner.”
“Some of us we’re pretty damn shocked that there would even be any debate on holding up the vote on the bill” considering the involvement of Seward and Hannon in hammering out the deal, Krueger added.
:I don’t see a purpose in stalling,” she said. ” … We’re out of the norm of the countries we’re competing with in the 21st Century.”
Listen to the full show here.