New York State of Health

Launches Exchanges on October 1





 In the midst of vicious partisan debates seeking to filibuster and overturn the Affordable Care Act, BALCONY Director Lou Gordon pointed out "there's a fear that the Affordable Health Care Act will work and it will!" The ACA means that nationally 33 million uninsured people, 2.6 million New Yorkers, will be eligible for health insurance and will no longer struggle with exorbitant health-care bills. This will ease the burden not only on individuals, but also on taxpayers in general, as the uninsured will no longer be dependent solely on the hospital emergency room as their primary care physician.


BALCONY/Greater New York Chamber of Commerce's most recent briefings on the ACA were held August 14th at Roosevelt Hospital and at St. Luke's Hospital on July 24th. Another forum was staged at the GNYCC Expo on September 18th at the New York Hilton. The informative workshops were presented to more than 500 businesses were sponsored by BALCONY, The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, Continuum Health Services, and Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freedman and Herz LLP. The forums featured presentations by the New York State of Health SHOP Coordinator Heather Rankin.  



(PowerPoint Presentation by Heather Rankin)
(view as a PDF file)

Catherine AbateOn the eve of the implementation of the ACA, Community HealthCare Network President & CEO and BALCONY Co-Chair Catherine Abate appeared on New York 1 to offer her perspective.  "We want to educate the uninsured that there will be subsidies, there will be advanceable premium credits, there will be cost-sharing around co-pays and deductibles, and it will, at the end of the day, for many of our patients, be quite affordable," said Abate.

"To fear the success of the ACA is to fear a country of healthier citizens, better treatment for all, and an enormous overhaul of a flailing health care system," said Gordon. "The House of Representatives has tried to overturn the ACA at least forty times and will continue to do so. Unfortunately it is viewed as a political issue and not as a health care necessity that will help all Americans."

Labor Unions Voice Concern over ACA Impact on Self Funded Health Plans

At the same time, BALCONY is concerned that the ACA will adversely impact self-funded union multi-employer plans of the Laborers, Teamsters, Hotel Workers and the Building Trades the ability of Taft Hartley unions to provide quality health care to their members.


LABORERS President Terry O'Sullivan's Concerns Over ACA

The AFL-CIO wants multi-employer union health plans to have access to the ACA's premium tax credits, and to be exempt from the various taxes and fees now included in the ACA. Specifically, the AFL-CIO called for the ACA excise tax, reinsurance fee and other fees to be eliminated for collectively bargained plans, union-administered plans and other plans that cover union-represented workers. (click here to read the AFL-CIO Convention Resolution on the Affordable Care Act).

Cuomo Announces 2014 Health Insurance Rates

Governor Andrew Cuomo, in a July News Release, highlighted the New York health insurance carriers which  are designated to provide coverage under the New York State of Health.


The following companies have Department of Financial Services-approved health insurance plan rates for the health benefits exchange. The rates approved are subject to final certification of the insurers' participation in the exchange.



Mark Jaffe, President of The Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, is proud to be partnered with BALCONY in providing more than thirty informative workshops to small businesses in New York on The Affordable Care Act. "We believe that educating people about the patient protections and the upcoming New York State of Health is critical to its success."


At the Roosevelt Hospital forum Brad Korn of Continuum Health Services, which manages both hospitals, asserted the importance of the ACA to the delivery of quality health care for all New Yorkers. He reinforced Continuum's commitment to working alongside BALCONY and the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce, helping them to streamline and facilitate access to information on the new plan.



Lou Gordon
began the forums by announcing the key benefits of the Affordable Care Act.


  • Provides affordable insurance for 33 million uninsured in the USA
  • Guarantees portability of insurance coverage
  • Eliminates the barrier of pre-existing conditions for coverage
  • Closes the drug prescription donut hole for seniors
  • Equalizes the cost of insurance between women and men
  • Enables more than 3 million "young invincibles" up to the age of 26 to be covered by their parents' insurance even if they do not live at home
  • Creates tax credits for more than 360,000 businesses and more than $1 billion


At the Roosevelt Hospital forum, Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, Chair of the New York State Assembly Health Committee, opened with his support of health care for all, while also referencing the many attempts by the United States to achieve universal healthcare. From Franklin Roosevelt to Harry Truman to Hilary Clinton, the nation has fought long and hard for a healthcare program affordable to everyone. In fact, Gottfried emphasized that he remains a strong supporter of the universal health care modeled after the Medicare program.

New York State of Health

During all three forums, Heather Rankin with the Small Business Marketplace, gave an overview of the NY State of Health, New York's official health plan marketplace. She covered the options available to small businesses and individuals who may seek health insurance coverage through the NY State of Health Marketplace. She spoke about qualified health plans, broker engagement, and other consumer assistance that will be available, and directed the audience to the NY State of Health website where more information is available.


As one of the first states to administer the ACA, New York small businesses and individuals will be able to see the options available to them and choose affordable coverage suited to their needs beginning October 1, 2013. Coverage through the NY State of Health will then begin on January 1, 2014.

"Small businesses with 25 or fewer employees may be eligible for a tax credit of up to 35% of what they contribute toward employee premiums. This rate will increase to 50% in 2014. The Small Business Marketplace offers full employer choice. Employers can select from among several plans that best suits their employees' needs. There are four levels at which qualified health plans are available: bronze, silver, gold, and platinum," said Ms. Rankin.



We also learned that for the first time, benefits under the ACA will include mental health and substance abuse. At the St. Luke's and Roosevelt Hospital forums, NYC Councilmember Gale Brewer highlighted mental health as a key benefit, one that small businesses have never before been in a position to provide. She stated, "Culturally, appropriate mental health coverage should not be stigmatized". In addition to enabling mental health coverage, the new law will encourage uninsured young people "to recognize the value of prevention." She also recognized the rarity of the BALCONY/GNYCC workshop, and its value in informing and empowering the public.

NYC Councilmember Robert Jackson re-iterated the value of affordable health care for young people while speaking at the Roosevelt Hospital forum. He referenced his own children as examples, specifically one who works in the medical field, and how this new legislation provides additional options for coverage.

At all three forums Suprina Berenyi, BALCONY Director of Health and Wellness, raised awareness of the importance of being conscious of health insurance and adopting a personal lifestyle of "engaging in healthier behaviors, such as wellness programs, which can reduce the risk of disease." The program she offers focuses on conscientious nutrition, stress reduction, and diabetes prevention. This sort of wellness program could inoculate against the Cadillac tax levied on high-cost insurance in 2018.

Mark Rifkin, Partner at Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freedman and Herz LLP, helped clarify the Health Insurance Employer Mandate, which has recently been delayed by the Department of Health and Human Services from January 1, 2014 to January 1, 2015. During the three forums, Rifkin discussed details of the mandate, including the requirement that large businesses offer their employees coverage, suffering penalties if they do not do so. He further qualified the definitions of large employers as well as the ability for employers to differentiate between salaried and hourly employees, between employees working in both different entities and states.

While implementing the mandate will have many challenges, attorney Rifkin simplified its complex requirements by telling everyone to remember three key numbers: 50, 60, and 9.5.  Essentially, employers with 50 or more employees must offer insurance coverage equivalent to the New York State of Health's "bronze option," which covers about 60% of health care costs, at a cost of no more than 9.5% of the employee's household income for individual coverage.

The BALCONY/GNYCC forums help to explain the ACA and its many intricacies and benefits. The forums' spectrum of speakers provided perspectives on the multiple issues of the ACA, representing business, labor, elected officials, and the implementation of the ACA and its impact on New York State. Questions are always welcomed, with further details made available by contacting the panelists directly.


The NY State of Health website currently has information about how people will be able to sign up on October 1st at www.nystateofhealth.ny.gov.

BALCONY and GNYCC will be holding more workshops explaining the ACA. These workshops are designed specifically for small businesses and individuals to help them comprehend and navigate the SHOP Exchange.

To sign up or find out more information contact BALCONY at (212) 219-7777 or


or the Greater New York Chamber of Commerce at (212) 686-7220 or







(Click HERE for the PDF version of the
Membership Directory by Sector)








4 West 43rd Street, Suite 405
New York, NY 10036
www.balconynewyork.com (212) 219-7777

Lou Gordon, Director





Alan Lubin, Co-Chair Labor
Robert M. Hayes, Co-Chair Business, Sr. VP, Universal American Corp.
Catherine M. Abate, Co-Chair Non-Profit, President/CEO, Community HealthCare Network

Executive Board

Anthony Potenza, Executive Director, New York Labor Health Care Alliance
Anita Kartalopoulos, Partner, Wolf Haldenstein Adler Freeman & Herz LLP

Cynthia D. DiBartolo, Tigress Financial Partners
Mark Jaffe, BALCONY Treasurer; President, Greater New York Chamber of Commerce
Bruce Ventimiglia, Saratoga Capital Management

BALCONY Support Team

Lou Gordon, BALCONY Director
Richard Winsten, Counsel, MSEK
Diane Masters, BALCONY Director of Special Projects
Katie Brandenstein, BALCONY Events Consultant
Elizabeth Eames, BALCONY Writer & Researcher
Kevin R. Weaver, Web Master and Computer Consultant

BALCONY is a 501(c)(4) non-profit. Contributions are not tax deductible and BALCONY makes no political endorsements nor campaign contributions.