NY adds regulations to protect Obamacare

ALBANY -- Gov. Andrew Cuomo's administration will install a series of measures to fight the potential repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act, including a preemptive rebuke to insurers looking to back out of the state's insurance marketplace.

Cuomo's office on Monday announced plans to create new emergency regulations, laying out steps the state health and financial services regulators will take to try and safeguard insurance coverage in New York from Congress' efforts to repeal and replace the federal health-care law.

Among them is a requirement that insurers on the state's marketplace, known as New York State of Health, cover the 10 basic health services now required under the Affordable Care Act, including prescription drugs, hospitalization and maternity care.

Insurers who back out of the marketplace, meanwhile, would be banned from participating in the state's Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Essential Plan programs, which are heavily subsidized by the state and federal government.

"We will not stand idly by as ultra-conservatives in Washington try to roll back the progress we have made to expand access (to) quality, affordable health care, putting our most vulnerable New Yorkers at risk," Cuomo said in a statement Monday.

The measures marked Cuomo's latest effort to push back against Republican-driven federal policies, including the repeal of so-called Obamacare and President Trump's decision to withdraw from the Paris climate agreement.
Cuomo is often mentioned as a potential Democratic presidential candidate in 2020.

On Tuesday, Cuomo is scheduled to take his battle to the campaign trail, headlining a Manhattan event to rally support for Democratic control of the House of Representatives.

Health insurers reacted skeptically to the Cuomo administration's newly planned regulations, noting that many of the measures are already required by law in New York.

They questioned whether it would be legal to block insurers from the state's Medicaid program and suggested Cuomo's announcement could stand to add even more uncertainty to the health care situation emanating from Washington.

“There are issues about the legality and timing of the directive to ban plans that don’t participate on the exchange from the Medicaid, Child Health Plus and Essential Plan markets, and the impact it might have on the overall marketplace in New York," Leslie Moran, spokeswoman for the New York Health Plan Association, said in a statement.

The Cuomo administration's new regulations would also finalize rules -- first proposed earlier this year -- that would require coverage of contraceptive drugs and devices without a co-pay or deductible for insurers on the state's marketplace.

The 10 categories of essential health benefits are a major tenet of the Affordable Care Act, which requires participating insurers to provide coverage for each category.

Along with hospitalization, maternity care and prescription drug coverage, other categories include mental health and substance abuse services, laboratory testing and pediatric care.

© Gannett Co., Inc. 2017. All Rights Reserved


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