When it comes to the new health insurance plans, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo is right to leave well enough alone.
Cuomo, perhaps sounding boastful, pointed out that this state hasn’t had the kind of issues on its health exchange that have been seen nationwide.
“Our program has actually been working well. The website has been working well …,” the governor said in response to a question at a news conference Monday on Staten Island.
And he’s right. New York is one of the states where the rollout of President Obama’s ambitious nationwide health care program has gone comparatively smoothly.
Not so in Washington, where Obama was compelled to apologize for his earlier, false pledge that “If you like your health plan, you can keep your health plan.” Millions howled in protest over cancellation notices issued because their plans did not meet the Affordable Care Act’s standards. That sent policyholders scrambling.
Then it was the insurance industry’s turn to scramble after the president decided to allow people to keep their old plans for a year. But shifting into reverse isn’t so easy for insurance companies that had already planned for 2014 on the assumption that substandard insurance plans would be terminated. They complained that resurrecting the plans at this late date would create a logistical mess.
Cuomo’s statement may have saved the day in the eyes of insurers. It means those affected in New York State – 137,000 people in Western New York who received cancellation notices for their plans – will have to continue working with industry officials to figure something out. The cost may likely increase but the benefits promise to be richer. The reaction, of course, will depend on how well a person can afford any increase or whether he will qualify for subsidies.
As of Nov. 12, 48,162 New Yorkers had enrolled through the NY State of Health exchange with about half in a private plan and half in Medicaid. That includes hundreds in this region. The state has said that most people who had direct-pay insurance or coverage through the state-subsidized Healthy NY program, which are both expiring, and people enrolled in small-group plans now deemed substandard, can expect to pay less next year for coverage.
Cuomo is not immovable on this issue. On the possibility of canceled policies being renewed, he was quoted saying that “If it is causing a problem for someone we will certainly look at it.” However, the rest of that comment gets back to the point. “Our program has actually been working well.”