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Help NY get moving on health care reform implementation -- THIS WEEK!
>Dear Members, Supporters, and Friends,
We all worked hard in 2009-10 to get national health care reform passed, and while it wasn’t a fully-perfect bill, the new Affordable Care Act does provide a new platform for states to build upon and we can do a lot with it if we’re smart and strategic.
This year, it’s New York’s turn to act, and getting an initial – AND GOOD!— exchange bill passed is the priority of the moment. Here’s what’s happening, and how you can help:
The state legislative session is drawing to a close (only 5 official scheduled session days left!) I know many are working hard on several important issues coming to a head now in Albany, among them: rent regulation, marriage equality, ethics reform, non-partisan redistricting, hydro-fracking … and of course the city budget fight is at a full boil too. We hope you are including health care on your “to-do” list.
Gov Cuomo finally put out his own program bill today (#12) to set up a new “health insurance exchange” for New York, per provisions of the new federal health care reform law passed last year. It is quite consumer and small-business-friendly, and far superior to what the Sen put out last week (S.5652) which is very industry-friendly. It is but an initial bill on this whole matter, with a much more detailed bill to be dealt with next year. This year’s initial one will set up the basics of the exchange, and calls for a number of studies to develop recommendations on a variety of key policy issues that the Legislature and the exchange’s board will take up down the road. All has to be completed by 2013 so that the exchange can begin operating in 1/14.
Gov. Cuomo’s bill can be improved along the way over the next week and beyond, and we and our partners in Health Care for All NY are urging the Assembly to play that role. Here’s what we want them to do this year:
Protect the exchange’s mission as an “active purchaser”/”selective contractor” so that consumers and small businesses can get good quality insurance from standardized plans at a good price. The Senate puts the “BIG Insurance fox” in charge of the hen house via a “passive clearinghouse” where any insurer can offer almost any kind of coverage and game the market with fairly loose rules and oversight.
Include strong and explicit conflict of interest provisions for the exchange’s governing board so that no one who can financially benefit (insurers, providers) is involved. Right now, both bills are relying solely on existing public authorities and public officers law, which may allow loopholes to be exploited.
Include a study of how to improve health equity and lessening disparities based on race, ethnicity, primary language, gender, disability, and sexual orientation. Both bills are silent on this important issue for a state as diverse as NY.
Include studies of both a “public option” AND a single-payer-style approach. Both bills call for a study of high-deductible “health savings accounts” (worthless if you get really sick or have little disposable income – HSAs are the industry’s latest scam to push costs back onto consumers, and really just benefit the wealthy who itemize their tax deductions.) If there’s a study of HSAs, there can be a studies of a public option (like in Connecticut) and a single-payer approach (like in Vermont.)
What to do:
Come to Albany on this Thurs. June 16 for our “Final Push Health Care Action Day”. We’ll be doing a press conference, legislative visits, and –most fun of all—a “fox hunt” to smoke out who’s protecting the BIG Insurance fox. Citizen Action will be leading this action as we visit key legislators’ offices in the Capitol complex. Car pools are being organized from NYC – let us know if you are interested.
Call Gov Cuomo, and YOUR Assemblymember and Senator NOW and deliver the above 4 messages.
Thanks for all you do in the fight for health care for all New Yorkers – together, we CAN make change happen!
Mark Hannay, Director Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign
40 Worth Street, Suite 802
New York, NY 10013
Last edited by Laura; 06-16-2011 at 11:52 AM.