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State Senators raise questions concerning NY State of Health

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: State Senators raise questions concerning NY State of Health
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ALBANY, N.Y. — As problems with the federal government's roll out of the Affordable Care Act continues, New York officials are touting the success of the state-based health exchange.

"Our marketplace gives employers a new option and the flexibility to select the contribution rates, the plan options that they desire for their employees and it also lets them choose to have a defined contribution program," said Donna Frescatore, NY State Of Health executive director.

But Senate lawmakers on Monday questioned the top official for New York's health care exchange for nearly 90 minutes. While hundreds of thousands have enrolled so far, senators raised concerns over some of the implementation of the Affordable Care Act in New York.

"These are impressive numbers in terms of enrollees, but what happens after the enrollment period in terms of people actually having coverage, when they go out and receive services that are needed?" asked state Sen. James Seward, R-Oneonta.

Senators narrowed in on anecdotal problems small businesses have had with implementing the health care law, known commonly as Obamacare. They also pointed to concerns with out-of-network coverage under plans offered in the health exchange.

"I think we're all a little concerned about the out of network issue," said state Sen. Martin Golden, R-Brooklyn. "They got additional bills for all of those out of network anesthesiologists, out of network doctors, and it was pretty overwhelming."

Frescatore addressed those concerns with reporters after testifying.

"We are aware and we understand that some individuals would prefer to enroll in a plan with out-of-network benefits, But we really are focused on making sure these plans are robust and provide people with the coverage that they need," Frescatore said.

Still, the New York exchange has already enrolled 230,624 people through Dec. 24, including 168,999 in private insurance plans.

State health officials say they're on track to register enough people by 2015 in order to drive down costs. Contingent on that is having people under 30 sign up for insurance. New Yorkers in their 20s amount to 30 percent of enrollees.

"Thirty percent is in line with what we were predicting and again we think that will continue to grow as time goes on," Frescatore said.

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