New York legislators are moving ahead with plans to lay the foundation of a health insurance exchange. Though the state Legislature has not yet passed any legislation making an exchange possible, lawmakers and insurance regulators are looking to prepare the state for what they believe is an inevitable system. New York has until 2014 to build an exchange system or risk having the federal government rake over the program. To date, New York has received more than $38 million in federal grants to work on implementing an exchange.
In June, lawmakers passed a law that established the New York Health Benefit Exchange, a corporation that will be responsible for overseeing the new system. The corporation is comprised of insurance executives, regulators and the state’s financial services and superintendent. Legislators have also established the Small Business Health Options Program, which aims to bring new insurance options to small businesses.
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The state Legislature has yet to pass a bill authorizing a health insurance exchange. Those in support of the system are looking to sway the votes of legislators by investigating the benefits of an exchange system. The Supreme Court is expected to weigh in on the issue of federal health care reform next year and, depending on the Court’s decision, a health insurance exchange may no longer be necessary. Legislators, however, argue that an exchange program, even one not associated with health care reform, could be a major boon for consumers and the insurance industry as a whole.