germantownjournal

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Kay’s Blog 7/14/12: NY State Health Insurance Exchanges

Back in May Governor Cuomo sidestepped the NY Republican controlled Senate to issue an executive order establishing an agency within the Health department to develop the structure for the State Insurance Exchanges called for  in the Affordable Care Act (ACA.)  The Republicans declined to set up any thing, even the planning mechanism for the Exchanges because they were hoping that the Supreme Court would declare the entire Act unconstitutional.  They lost that one, but they still set New York State far behind other states in the Northeast that looked ahead, with their residents in mind, and set up functioning  agencies that are now in place.

Vermont has created its own “single payer” system within the Insurance Exchange and Massachussets’ state-wide insurance plan (Romneycare!) will fit into the Exchange mode “like buttah”.   Connecticut, home to the Insurance dynasties in Hartford, has a full flegded Exchange with strict conflict of interest regulations on the Board that is designing the structure and rules of  the plan. They have included both consumer and patient representation on the Board and no Insurance Executive may serve on it.  What did NY State have in April of 2012?  Zilch. Nada. Zero.

I began looking into this issue a few months ago, when the governor issued his order.  I found that the person in charge is Danielle Holahan, Project Director for Health Insurance Exchange Planning.  There is a website for the ordinary person to follow the development of this work.  When I first went to it back in early June it was basically a hollow shell.  However, I have gone to it today to see what it now tells us.  Here it is: www.healthcarereform.ny.gov/  It looks good and the most recent post is 6/28/12, which I believe is the date the Supreme Court mde its ruling.
But back to the Senators, who have blocked every effort to extend insurance to the un-insured or the underinsured.  What part will they play in passing any legislation needed to implement the Insurance Exchanges?  Are they concerned with the public interest?  Will they allow a strong “conflict of Interest” enforcement?  Will they make sure consumer and patient interests are considered? Whose pockets will they be looking after?  What Insurance Companies donate to them? Think about that when you vote for state Senator this November.  (Hint: Vote for Robin Andrews! 43rd District)
There are still so many decision to be made to set up a well-functioning Exchange, particularly one that will be consumer/patient friendly.  This state has a long history of disfunctional relationships with medical providers, with corruption and lack of adequate oversight a too common problem.  it is a huge state and will be the source for most of the population’s needs for Health Insurance.  Will it be efficient?  Will it be honestly run? Will Insurance companies or their lobbying ghosts have undue influence?  There are a thousand questions to be asked and I will try to follow the development of the Exchanges to keep you abreast of developments.  I am trying to get the Times Union to create a newsdesk position to cope with the vast amount of informationthat will be put out.  That information will either be a smokescreen or valid; the process will be secretive or open to the public.  This is a vital, massive new government enterprise that needs attention from the press.  No one like me, with such limited resources, can follow what’s going on and what’s not going on. But I’ll do my best!  I’m looking now for independent public interest groups who may be following the progress.  If you have any to suggest please let me know.
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