Monday, September 5, 2011

They could use a Stephens in New York state

Posted By on Mon, Sep 5, 2011 at 7:48 PM


Here's an interesting article, from the liberal utopia of New York state no less, detailing the difficulty of a legislature in establishing a heath insurance exchange.

As the legislative session came to its end in June — the Capitol shaking with the chanting of protestors for and against same-sex marriage — numerous pieces of controversial legislation also were settled and voted on. But when the emotional vote on gay marriage ended, Senate Majority Leader Dean Skelos called an end to the 2011 legislative session, leaving some lobbyists and lawmakers shocked.

Observers weren't surprised that the Senate failed to take action on controversial bills such as independent redistricting, but one piece of legislation remained that had been agreed to by the Assembly, governor and Senate — legislation that would see the creation of a federally mandated health insurance exchange.

There are a couple obvious arguments that this brings to mind for those of us who weathered this debate last session in the Colorado Legislature.

For House Majority Leader Amy Stephens and her supporters, this clearly illustrates just how difficult it is to establish these exchanges, even in New York with a Democratic House and governor, and the fact that she was able to negotiate a deal in her Republican House speaks to her leadership abilities. With SB 200, Stephens succeeded where others have failed.

On the opposing side, the conservatives who saw the passage of SB 200 as an unnecessary capitulation to "Obamacare" can argue that Stephens' claim that the state must act urgently was proven naive. Instead, she could have balked under the threat of a looming deadline, drawing a line in the sand. Apparently, she wouldn't been alone if she had made that choice.

But New York is not alone in being behind schedule in setting up an exchange, and federal officials have acknowledged that. Fewer than a dozen states have implemented exchange laws, and the lawsuit against health care reform has kept some Republican states from acting.

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