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Cuomo defends New Yorkers’ healthcare access, bans insurers that leave state exchange

“We’re taking steps to ensure core protections of the Affordable Care Act remain intact,” the governor tweeted.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defends New Yorkers’ access to health care.
New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo defends New Yorkers’ access to healthcare in the wake of Republicans' attempt to repeal Obamacare. (Reuters)

Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Monday made a move to defend New York residents’ access to affordable healthcare in the wake of the Republicans' American Health Care Act — and to bar any insurance company from future participation in programs like Medicaid if they withdraw from the state health exchange.

"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 healthcare, putting our most vulnerable New Yorkers at risk," Cuomo said in a statement. “As long as I am governor, New Yorkers will not be subject to price discrimination based on age, gender or pre-existing conditions, and essential health benefits will continue to be the rule, not the exception.”

Under the Obamacare-repealing AHCA, at least 23 million Americans would lose access to healthcare and be charged more if they have pre-existing conditions, which some insurers previously identified as things like domestic violence, sexual assault, acne or a Caesarean section.

While the AHCA passed the House early last month after being revamped from its first inception in March, it still needs to pass the Senate. According to a May 25 Quinnipiac University Poll, only 20 percent of American voters support the Republicans' healthcare plan.

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“These aggressive actions will make certain that no matter what happens in Congress, the people of New York will not have to worry about losing access to the quality medical care they need and deserve,” Cuomo said.

So what exactly is Cuomo promising with his aggressive approach to New York healthcare?

The governor directed the state’s Department of Financial Services (DFS) to continue the 10 protections mandated by Obamacare, aka the Affordable Care Act, and made it a license requirement for insurers in New York.

Those protections include ambulatory patient services like office visits, chemo and radiology services, emergency and urgent-care services, hospitalization and hospice care, maternity, mental health and substance-abuse care, prescription coverage, rehabilitation services and devices, lab service and testing, preventive wellness such as gynecological exams, well-child visits and prostate cancer screenings and pediatric service.

Under existing state law, DFS will also dictate that healthcare providers offer coverage for contraceptive drugs and devices without co-pay, coinsurance or deductible, regardless of what happens to Obamacare, which currently remains in effect. Additionally, DFS will mandate that insurers offer coverage for medically necessary abortion services without co-pays, coinsurance or deductibles.

Cuomo also directed the Department of Health to bar any insurer who stops offering Qualified Health Plans on the state marketplace from future participation in programs that coincide with it, such as Medicaid, Child Health Plus and the Essential Plan.

Cuomo’s announcement was met with mixed reactions on Twitter, with one responder saying “thank you, thank you, thank you!” while another said they were “taking steps to leave this state.”

“Healthcare is not a right when … some drink alcohol and eat McDonald’s,” another tweeted. “If someone doesn’t care about themselves, why should I?”

Several also called for the governor to create a single-payer plan. 

 
 
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