New York has taken the giant leap toward ensuring that its residents can get affordable, quality health insurance — independent of what fate befalls the federal Affordable Care Act, subject of a constitutionality “checkup” of sorts before the U.S. Supreme Court.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday short-circuited the Senate Republicans’ silly politics and issued an executive order to create a health-care exchange. The exchange would serve as a clearinghouse of sorts: Private-based health insurers will list their products and compete head-to-head, giving insurance “shoppers” an easy way to compare rates. (Albany Times Union state editor Casey Seiler cleverly likened it to “the health insurance equivalent of such best-deal clearinghouses as the travel website Expedia.”) The exchange also would give individuals and small businesses a way to “buy in bulk,” boosting their purchasing power in the market.
Senate Republicans, worried about the appearance of “condoning” the Affordable Care Act, had stalled legislation to create a state health insurance exchange database. The U.S. Supreme Court is now examining the health-reform law, with a focus on the legislation’s controversial “individual mandate,” which requires Americans without insurance to secure coverage.
While statewide health exchanges are key elements of the Affordable Care Act, they provide value way beyond the federal health-reform law. The federal framework doesn’t need to exist for the health exchange to successfully serve New Yorkers, of whom some 2.7 million lack insurance.
State Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, has long opposed the federal Affordable Care Act and a state health exchange. He blasted Cuomo’s executive order as “political” and “simply not prudent.” Meanwhile, Ball said he supported “reining in big insurance.” His fellow Republicans in Albany, like their counterparts in Congress, are doing more to preserve the unsustainable status quo than fix it.