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ALBANY — While advocacy groups continue to sound the alarm about New York’s lack of progress in creating a health-care exchange, Republican leaders in the Senate, where the bill is stalled, are saying there’s no rush.

The federal Affordable Care Act requires that everyone have health insurance by Jan. 1, 2014. To assist, states will have online marketplaces through which individuals and small businesses can purchase coverage. So far, 15 states have created them, although those in Massachusetts and Utah pre-date the federal law, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures.

New York could lose millions of dollars in federal grants if it doesn’t set up the exchange, health care advocates said. Some have estimated the state could be eligible for $100 million.

The longer state officials wait to act, the longer they will place the 2.7 million uninsured New Yorkers’ health in danger, said Blair Horner, vice president for advocacy for the American Cancer Society, Eastern Division.

“There’s a federal law that largely addresses that problem, and New York, which is one of the biggest states in the country, should be a leader on it, not a follower,” he said.

New York so far has received more than $39 million in Affordable Care Act grants, but it can’t apply for multi-year “Level 2″ grants without legislation creating a governance structure and initial budget, as well as plans for assisting consumers and preventing fraud, waste and abuse.

After reaching a three-way agreement with Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the Democrat-led Assembly in June, the GOP-controlled Senate removed the health-exchange bill from its agenda at the last minute. Several Republican senators had raised questions and concerns about the legislation, tying to it the national debate over President Obama’s initiative. The Assembly passed it…

Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, has been the most vocal opponent of the health-exchange bill. He has said he opposes “Obamacare” and said the state shouldn’t take any action until federal lawsuits challenging the constitutionality of the law are resolved.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take up the issue. (READ MORE)


Publication date: 
Friday, September 30, 2011 - 00:00