By JOSEPH SPECTOR
Albany Bureau Chief
ALBANY -- Unable to get a deal with the state Legislature, Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Thursday issued an executive order to establish a statewide health exchange as required by federal law.
Senate Republicans had balked at creating the health exchange as a way to oppose President Obama's national health-care mandate. But Cuomo said the state is required to set up the exchange by federal law, and it would reduce the cost of coverage for individuals, small businesses, and local governments.
"The bottom line is that creating this health exchange will lower the cost of health insurance for small businesses, local governments, and individual New Yorkers across the state. The sky-high cost of insurance in New York is driving businesses out of the state and preventing lower income New Yorkers from being able to afford needed coverage," Cuomo said in a statement.
"Establishing the health exchange will bring true competition into the health care marketplace, driving costs down across the state."
Cuomo said that the exchange will be funded by the federal government and create a marketplace for individuals and businesses to buy health insurance. It will also provide coverage for more than 1 million uninsured New Yorkers, he said.
Cuomo has argued that if New York didn't create exchange, the state would lose federal aid. The federal government would set up the exchange itself if the state didn't do it as part of the Affordable Care Act.
Cuomo said the exchange would not require any state subsidy January 1, 2015.
The move comes as the Affordable Care Act is being challenged in U.S. Supreme Court.
Supporters of the health-care law hailed Cuomo's decision. He had indicated last month that he would create the exchange through executive order, rather than through legislation as he initially sought.
"His actions will help millions of uninsured New Yorkers and their families gain access to quality and affordable health-care coverage, and it will clear the way for New York state to seek additional federal funding to develop the exchange," said Joan Parrott-Fonseca, AARP New York state director, in a statement released by the governor's office.