Health care consumers in New York won a major victory on April 12th when Governor Cuomo issued an Executive Order to create a health insurance exchange – a health care marketplace — in the state. Once an exchange is created in January of 2014, the state projects that consumers that directly purchase health insurance will save in the range of 70% on their insurance premiums and employees of small businesses will save close over 20%. And, through the exchange’s web page and phone assistance, consumers will have lots of help in selecting health plans that meet their needs. Help will also be available to navigate the health insurance bureaucracy and to resolve disputes with insurers when consumers need it!
Here’s the Governor’s press release and Executive Order. The release quotes Citizen Action Executive Director Karen Scharff praising the Governor’s leadership on health care reform.
The Governor’s action was necessary because of the irresponsible actions of the Republican State Senate leadership in refusing to pass legislation that they had previously agreed to that would have created an exchange. Had the Governor not acted by January of 2013, the federal Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) would have likely exercised its authority to establish a federally-operated exchange in New York, making it far less likely that average New Yorkers would have had a say in how the state health insurance marketplace was designed. His action is a tribute to the work of the tens of thousands of New Yorkers, including thousands of Citizen Action members, who spoke out to show their support for a reformed health care system that checks the power of major health insurers in the state.
The Executive Order provides that the exchange will be housed in the State Department of Health, and that regional advisory committees will be set up consisting of consumer advocates, small business consumer representatives and other stakeholders.
Watch this space to get future updates on our campaign to ensure that the New York exchange is “consumer-friendly” and meets the goals of the Affordable Care Act to provide consumers with quality, affordable health insurance!