Senate GOP Still Holding up Insurance-Exchange Legislation
Posted by: Cara Matthews - on Sep 14, 2011
Nearly three months after Gov. Andrew Cuomo and lawmakers forged an agreement on legislation to set up a health-insurance exchange in the state, the GOP-controlled Senate has yet to indicate whether it plans to return to Albany to vote on the bill. States are required to set up health-care exchanges to comply with the federal Affordable Care Act.
The measure passed the Assembly at during the last week of session in June, but it was removed from the Senate agenda because some Republicans said they oppose “Obamacare” and thus would vote no on the bill. Senate leaders said it could be taken up later in the year. The Senate has not returned since June, and it’s unclear whether the bill will be voted on.
The federal law requires states to set up exchanges through which individuals and small businesses can buy health-care coverage by Jan. 1, 2014. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services will certify in 2013 that states are on track to meet the deadline. For those that aren’t, the federal government will set up the exchanges.
A number of lawsuits have been filed challenging aspects of the law, including a requirement that everyone have health insurance. Federal court decisions have been mixed, and the issue is expected to go before the U.S. Supreme Court.
The results of next year’s presidential election will help determine the law’s future, Sen. Greg Ball, R-Patterson, Putnam County, said on the Capitol Pressroom today.
“We’re talking about a huge federal mandate, the constitutionality has been called into question, so it didn’t seem right to me that we should be in a position of pushing, especially hastily and aggressively, towards implementation with all those questions that are still out there,” he said.
Proponents of the bill have said up to $100 million in federal funding to help create the exchange.
Democratic Sen. Liz Krueger, D-Manhattan, said she has heard from small businesses that are facing skyrocketing insurance premiums. The exchange, if done right, would provide “aggregate purchasing power,” which would help businesses get better prices for insurance, she said.
“The sooner we get this done, the sooner we can get the decision making rolling in our state, the earlier we can implement, the earlier we can start to draw federal money and the earlier we can offer some, I believe, real savings for private businesses in the state who are being hit with double-digit inflation on their insurance premiums,” she said on the Capitol Pressroom.
Doing nothing is placing New Yorkers’ health in danger, said Blair Horner, vice president for advocacy for the American Cancer Society, Eastern Division. There are roughly 2.7 million uninsured New Yorkers.
“This is really an issue where ideology is trumping the needs of real people,” Horner said on the Capitol Pressroom.
The agreed-upon legislation in New York was a scaled-down version of what had originally been proposed. It would have set up a public authority to administer the exchange, and additional details would be put in place with future legislation.