When it comes to establishing a state health care exchange, a group of high-ranking Senate Democrats this morning reached for an oft-used page from the Albany playbook: an open letter.
Senate Minority Leader John Sampson, along with Sens. Neil Breslin, D-Albany, Albany County, and Thomas Duane, D-Manhattan, delivered a message to Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos this morning, calling on Senate Republicans to act swiftly on setting up a health insurance exchange as part of the federal Affordable Care Act.
The letter comes after Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued a similar call — though he didn’t single out Senate Republicans — in his printed State of the State message delivered to the Legislature, but didn’t mention it in his actual speech.
“This issue is about providing millions of uninsured New Yorkers with the opportunity to access quality health care,” the Democrats wrote. “As you know, if we do not create our own Exchange, the Federal government will step in and do it for us. New York would be better served by setting up its own Exchange based on what New Yorkers need. Neglecting to set up an Exchange denies health coverage to New Yorkers who need it.”
Last year, Cuomo and leaders in the Senate and Assembly came to an agreement on a bill to create an exchange, but it fell through when Senate Republicans balked at complying with “Obamacare,” as critics call it.
In City and State’s “First Read” email this morning, Senate Health Chairman Kemp Hannon said the federal government hasn’t adequately responded to some of the concerns the Senate GOP has raised, and there remains unanswered questions about the costs associated with an exchange.
Here’s the Democrats’ letter, delivered to Skelos this morning: