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NY State Health Insurance Exchanges: Where are they?

Here is a letter to the editor of the Albany Times Union that I sent today: (11/15/12)

The issue of the Health Insurance Exchanges that were mandated by the affordable Care Act has surfaced in the news in the past few days since the re-election of president Obama.  the stories have concentrated on the dilemmas facing the Republican Governors of states that have taken no steps to establish the Exchanges and the deadline of November 29th to have done so.

 
Here in NY State the Republican Senate has refused to take any actions on this program, largely because they wanted to hold out for a defeat of President Obama.  The Governor bypassed this obstruction by designating the NY Department of Health to begin developing the framework for the program to go forward.
 
However, the steps that have been taken are largely under the radar of any news coverage that informs the public of what is happening. The activity is not secret–it is just invisible to the general public.  This is a public that is, to use the terminology used by the Department, the biggest “stakeholder” in the state.  I’m sure the public would like to rest its trust in the (hopefully) earnest bureaucrats that are constructing the exchanges.  However, the State of NY and its associated departments that deal with health care issue has had a checkered history of poor administration or worse, corrupt practices. So I am concerned about the invisibility of the state’s effort.
 
Last spring I spent about a week trying to reach THE department within the Department of Health that was beginning to set up the groundwork for the exchanges.  I was trying to find out what or who are the representatives of the public interest in the development of this extremely important government program.  I received a letter from Daneille Holahan, Project Director for Health Insurance Exchange Planning, basically informing me of the website :www.HealthCareReform.ny.gov  This is a website that is no longer identifiable. I’m sure there is another accurate website if I start hunting for it.
 
I am asking the Times Union undertake to follow this program development.  Perhaps one of your reporters or columnists will take the matter under his wing and check up on them now and then. As a private citizen, I feel quite shut out of the process.
 
There is a political story in identifying what means of implementation or obstruction can we expect from the NY Senate?  Have they lost their ideological animus for the exchanges?  Will they work to make it successful or to make it ineffective?  
 
There is a governmental operations story to follow to see how well our state is doing compared to, say, Massachusetts, or Connecticut, two neighbors that have already implemented a whole framework. There are successful models out there, or are we starting from scratch to build a truly unwieldy bureaucracy?  What are the qualifications for the appointees?  How are conflicts of interest defined and enforced? How were the “stakeholders” identified? is the public interest represented in this very important new health care bureaucracy?
 
I hope to see some coverage in the paper soon.  Thank you.
 
Sincerely,
Kay Abraham
 
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