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Changes could come to NY health exchange if Affordable Care Act is repealed

Tom Magnarelli
ACR Health officials discuss what could change in New York's health exchange.

While New York would not be as greatly affected as other states if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, there could be some changes to the health exchange. Republicans, controlling the House, Senate and soon the presidency, are now positioned to repeal President Obama’s healthcare law.

New York State of Health is a marketplace for buying health insurance. It operates under the Affordable Care Act, but is a self-sustaining program, meaning the state pays for it, so it can run on its own. And it chips in for a part of the subsidies to help eligible customers buy insurance. A repeal of the Affordable Care Act would affect the remaining costs of those subsidies, paid for by the federal government.

Brian VanBenschoten, an insurance programs coordinator with ACR Health said it would fall on Gov. Andrew Cuomo and the state Legislature to decide.   

“The big question out there is, how do we make up that federal deficit, from what is being put in by the federal government?" VanBenschoten said. "How does the state make that up? We don’t have that answer.”
VanBenschoten said other items they would lobby the state to include from the Affordable Care Act are the pre-existing condition clause, caps on benefits and dependent coverage up to age 26.

“These are all big things that have changed the landscape of health insurance in the United States and in the New York that we will maintain a fervor to keep in effect,” VanBenschoten said.

These are also provisions some Republicans think should remain law even if the Affordable Care Act is repealed. 

Regardless of what happens in the future, Steve Wood the director of insurance programs at ACR Health encouraged the uninsured to get covered now during the Affordable Care Act’s open enrollment.

"Are we going to go back to the days where if you had cancer in the past or diabetes, that they're going to take your insurance away from you?" Wood asked. "I don't know, we'll see what happens. We're going to fight for you. We have big organizations behind us. New York State has big organizations behind us as well."

Nearly three million New Yorkers signed up for insurance through New York State of Health in 2016.

Tom Magnarelli is a reporter covering the central New York and Syracuse area. He joined WRVO as a freelance reporter in 2012 while a student at Syracuse University and was hired full time in 2015. He has reported extensively on politics, education, arts and culture and other issues around central New York.