By executive order last Thursday, New York Gov. Andrew P. Cuomo set into motion a state health care exchange, something mandated under the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act. The exchange, and similar ones in a growing number of states, is intended to bring much-needed competition to the insurance market and help millions of uninsured Americans get coverage. Had New York failed to act, the federal government would have stepped in to impose its own version of an exchange, provided, of course, that the law survives the Supreme Court.
Starting on Jan. 1, 2014, New Yorkers and others will be eligible for federal tax credits and incentives for participation. The exchanges have been compared, at least hypothetically, to online travel sites where consumers can shop for the best deals. The owners of small businesses will be able to customize plans to suit their employees’ needs rather than continue to struggle with a system in which terms and higher and higher premiums are dictated by insurance companies.
The reason Mr. Cuomo went the route of issuing an executive order is that New York Senate Republicans, who tend to oppose what they call Obamacare, made any hope for action on an exchange in the Legislature unlikely.
From a political point of view, it may not be a winning strategy for Mr. Cuomo’s opposition to spend its energy putting “Obama” and “care” in front of multiple audiences. While no doubt arousing a portion of the Republican voting base, it may not really help the party when the governor is up for re-election. His opponent will be at risk of a moderate or swing voter having the perception reinforced that the state Democrats and the president are the candidates who care about health and the uninsured.
At any rate, any reasonable program will have to be better than the usury that defines private and workplace health insurance in the State of New York now. We welcome the exchange. Good going, governor.