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NY State Dropping the Ball on Health Exchanges

The New York State Senate recently failed to pass a health insurance exchange bill (“Dropping the Ball on Health Exchanges,” NY Times, July 11, 2011) that creates an exchange where small businesses and individuals in New York purchase quality, affordable, private insurance. Unlike the current marketplace, the exchange is consumer- friendly. Insurance companies are required to publicize information about their practices, including claims denials and costs to the consumer for out-of-network coverage. The bill requires that health plan information be put into plain language and a standardized format and creates programs to help consumers navigate the exchange and access public programs for which they and their family members might be eligible.

This is a consumer-friendly bill that can help expand access to health care for all New Yorkers, including legal immigrants, who are more likely than the general population to be uninsured. Failing to pass the bill and establish our own exchange means the federal government will step in and implement one that will be unlikely to meet the unique needs of New York. We’ve always been a step ahead of the federal government in providing access to care. The State Senate should reconvene and pass the health exchange bill to give New York the kind of health care reform it needs.



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