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Legislative Memo: To Establish the New York Health Benefit Exchange

This legislation would establish a health care benefit exchange (the “exchange”) for New York State as required by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The exchange would operate as a virtual marketplace for health insurance by offering a choice of plans, establishing common rules regarding the offering and pricing of insurance, and providing information to help consumers better understand the options available to them.

Thereby, the exchange would enable individual consumers to compare and purchase the health insurance plan that is best suited for their needs and their budget, and allow employers to hold down the cost of providing health insurance to their employees.

In addition, establishing New York’s exchange is critical to ensuring that over a million currently uninsured New Yorkers are able to benefit from the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by gaining access to affordable health insurance1.  The New York Civil Liberties Union strongly supports this legislation.

New York cannot afford to wait for legislation enabling the health care benefit exchange. The Affordable Care Act provides that if the state does not pass exchange legislation, a federally-operated exchange will be established by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services2.  Passing a state health exchange law ensures that New York retains control over the infrastructure of its state exchange to best meet the values and unique needs of our state’s residents.

New York State has a history of leadership in working to make health care accessible to underserved communities above and beyond the aid provided by the federal government. Ceding authority to the federal government to set up the state’s health exchange will undermine New York’s long-standing commitment to ensuring that all New Yorkers—particularly women and children—have access to health care.

The New York Civil Liberties Union supports the creation of a single statewide exchange that reflects principles of health care equity, quality, and accessibility for all New Yorkers. New York has always been committed to an affordable and accessible health care system. We call on the Senate to finish the job the Assembly has begun by passing this legislation as soon as possible.


1. New York State Health Foundation, Implementing Federal Health Care Reform: A Roadmap for New York State (2010).

2. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, Public Laws 111-148 & 111-152 §1321(c)(1)(B).

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