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Governor pushes health insurance exchange

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CNY/NNY/S. Tier: Governor pushes health insurance exchange
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Negotiations continue in Albany on the future of health insurance in New York. Governor Cuomo has included the health care exchange as part of his budget plan but senate Republicans are opposing the deal. Our Nick Reisman has the story

Governor Andrew Cuomo is still pushing for the enactment of a statewide health-insurance exchange, even though the proposal isn't in his $132.5 billion budget and faces opposition from majority Republicans in the state Senate. In a radio interview Friday, the governor blamed politics for the delay.

"It is very important to get a health exchange. I'm working very hard to get the Legislature to pass it. There are other options if they are unwilling to pass it and I'm exploring all options," said Cuomo.

The insurance exchange, a marketplace for insurance plans to compete within each other, is part of the national health care law that passed in 2009, signature legislation for President Obama. But the law has its conservative critics around the county and here in New York. The state legislation was actually introduced in June, but Senate Republicans shot it down at the height of the same-sex marriage debate.

"We would like to stay under the two percent growth that the governor had in his budget. If we're asking local governments to stay within two percent, the state should stay within two percent," said Dean Skelos, Senate Majority Leader.

Senate Republicans worry the proposal can wind up costing New York $65 billion and they point out that 35 states are yet to create their own exchanges. If New York doesn't create the insurance exchange, advocates fear a one-size-fits all model will be imposed by the federal government. As for the budget, the governor says he's not too concerned if the budget is passed before the April 1 deadline as much as he is the substance.

"I'd like to see it on time if we can. Most importantly I want to see a good budget. Whether we get it done on time or not is less important to me than whether or not it's a good budget," said Cuomo.

Majority Leader Dean Skelos says the plan can stay within the governor's self-imposed 2 percent cap on spending.

"I don't know if in the budget talks, but obviously it's going to come up at some point and our position is we don't have the information that's necessary concerning costs," said Skelos.

Budget bills could be printed as early as this weekend.

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