The Affordable Care Act requires states to establish one-stop marketplaces where consumers can choose a private health insurance plan. Earlier this week, the Department of Health and Human Services issued nearly $200 million in grant funding to help a number of states set up health insurance exchanges. The Affordable Insurance Exchange grants were given to thirteen states that have shown significant progress towards establishing exchanges. The recipients of the funding include: Alabama, Arizona, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Maine, Michigan, Nebraska, New Mexico, Rhode Island, Tennessee, and Vermont. Interestingly seven of the thirteen states that received this new grant funding are challenging the Affordable Care Act’s constitutionality in court.
New York State has already been the recipient of significant funding from the federal government to help create an exchange for New York’s consumers. However, New York has yet to establish its exchange or pass legislation to authorize its creation. Despite agreement between the Legislature and Governor Cuomo on legislation, the bill failed to come to the floor for a vote in the Senate in the 2011 session. Many consumers and state health officials are anxious for legislation to pass, and believe the exchange will offer uninsured New Yorkers a forum to shop for affordable insurance options. According to a recent report by the Fiscal Policy Institute the number of uninsured New Yorkers increased by 550,000 since 2007. The nearly 25% increase is due largely to a drastic drop in insurance provided by private employers. Some patient advocates believe the creation of the exchange in New York could serve as important way for many of these uninsured consumers to access affordable insurance coverage.
-Jaime Venditti, 12/2/11