Thursday, December 18, 2014

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Cuomo issues executive order for statewide Health Exchange

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Cuomo issues executive order for statewide Health Exchange
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Thursday, Governor Cuomo followed through on a promise he made two weeks ago, to set up a state health exchange through executive order, after the state legislature couldn’t agree on a plan. Our Nick Reisman has the details.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- As expected, Governor Andrew Cuomo on Thursday unveiled his executive order creating a statewide health insurance exchange, a requirement of the federal health care that could be undone by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“You have to govern in the time that you live in and right now, it's federal law. The federal law says we have to set up an exchange. If we didn't set up an exchange, the federal law would come in and do it. So really the executive order that we're very happy the governor did is responding to existing federal law,” said AARP Legislative Director Bill Ferris.

The order sets up a market place for health insurance plans to compete and provide the best price to consumers. Cuomo's order envisions that the exchange would be paid for with $2.6 billion in federal tax credits and eventually be self-sustaining by 2015. The order also calls for regional committees composed of members from the health, insurance and business community.

Ferris said, “It really creates an opportunity in the future to access affordable health insurance and we need that in New York.”

Cuomo's hand was forced on the executive order after Republicans in the State Senate expressed unease with the measure. This was the second year the administration tried to get the exchange up and running. Last year, it came during the successful push for gay marriage, with some grumbling about enacting pejorative ObamaCare in New York.

This year, Republicans raised issues with the potential cost impact.

Senator Greg Ball, one of the more conservative members of the GOP conference, said in a statement, “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 dollars that we do not have."

Senate Democrats disagree.

“There's federal government monies available. The earlier we apply, the better off we are. So this executive order will actually save New York money,” State Senator Neil Breslin said.

Despite Republican concerns, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos told reporters last month he won't challenge Cuomo's executive order creating the exchange.

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