Savino, Malliotakis Differ On Health Insurance Exchange

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Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Executive Budget for 2012-2013 includes legislation that would create something called the New York Health Benefit Exchange.

The exchange would create a “centralized marketplace for health insurance” that, according to its proponents, will result in increased coverage and reduced costs for New Yorkers – especially small business owners – who purchase health insurance, writes the Legislative Gazette.

State Senator Diane Savino is expressing support for the measure, while her car pool buddy Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis voted against the bill last year, expressing skepticism about both its cost and the limitations it would place on personal choice. At the time, Malliotakis had also brought up controversial federal health care legislation, hinting at the possibility of the New York law as an incremental step towards nationalized health care.

“The costs involved in implementing ObamaCare are astronomical and doing so would be detrimental to the health of our economy and our citizens,” Malliotakis said in a June 2011 memo. “I will not support the government takeover of our health care because I don’t think the government should be dictating what insurance we buy or what doctors we visit.”

While Malliotakis is presumably still against the bill, she has not yet commented on it in its present form – as part of the overall budget rather than as an individual piece of legislation.

Savino, on the other hand, says the exchange would be a “tremendous opportunity” for New Yorkers, particularly the owners of small businesses.

“We have to make sure we capitalize on this opportunity,” she said at a press event held by the Independent Democratic Conference last Wednesday.

Savino outlined three things the exchange must do in regards to small business insurance. New York would have to “provide small business purchasers with the greatest number of insurance plan options … that reflect the same diversity and scope in size as the businesses in this state.” She also thinks small businesses must be involved in the planning and given affordable options. “Finally,” she said, “we have to empower small businesses to choose the plan that works best for their needs and the needs of their business and employees.”

“If we give everybody the opportunity to participate we can drive down the cost, we can insure (sic) that all New Yorkers are receiving quality health care,” Savino told reporters.