Cuomo: State won't reoffer canceled health plans

New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. (Oct. 24, New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo. (Oct. 24, 2013) Photo Credit: Getty Images

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Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said Monday it is unlikely that New York will reoffer canceled health insurance policies that don't meet the Affordable Care Act's requirements.

On Thursday, President Barack Obama, reeling from criticism that he didn't keep his promise to let people keep their health plans if they liked them, gave insurance companies permission to renew policies that were canceled because they did not meet the new federal standards.

But Cuomo, in response to a question at a news conference on Staten Island Monday, said that New York's exchange, NY State of Health, was not plagued with the same problems as the federal health exchange.

"Our program is working well and we've had good success with it," Cuomo said. "We don't see any reason to change it now because we're not having those types of issues."

But he left the door open to reoffer plans if there was a call for it. "If it's causing a problem, we'll certainly look at it," he said.

Spokeswoman Leslie Moran said the New York Health Plan Association supported the governor's comments.

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"We agree with the governor," she said of the association. "We are not hearing a lot of hue and cry from consumers at this point."

Karl Washwick, owner of Washwick Agency in Riverhead, said it would be "virtually impossible" for New York to reissue canceled policies at this late date because it takes six to eight months for the state to approve plans. Consumers must enroll by Dec. 15 for coverage that begins Jan. 1, but have until March 31 to buy insurance for next year.

How many New Yorkers have had their policies canceled is unclear. According to the state Department of Health, 88,020 who were enrolled in the state-supported low-cost insurance Healthy NY are now required to buy insurance on the exchange. Another 15,922 were enrolled in individual direct pay -- plans for individuals that were typically very expensive and did not meet ACA requirements.

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But that number doesn't reflect those policies purchased by small businesses that have been canceled because they do not meet ACA requirements.

Neil Weingarten, vice president of Conference Associates, an insurance brokerage firm in Patchogue, said his company is still struggling with what to do about "the literally thousands of plans" for small businesses his firm handled that have been canceled. He said the plans have typically been replaced with policies that are more expensive and have smaller networks -- a complaint of other Long Island brokers.

Insurers said they are on hold until they hear from the state definitively.

Maria Gordon Shydlo, a spokeswoman for United HealthCare, said the company is "awaiting further direction from our state regulatory partners."

A spokeswoman for EmblemHealth, Ann Marie Gothard, said the company is "waiting for further guidance from New York State."

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