Andrew Cuomo Helps Consumers, Saves Upstate

ALBANY—In one stroke, Andrew Cuomo announced a program that should help health care consumers, bring investment and jobs to upstate New York and bring evil insurance companies to heel.

Cuomo was at Syracuse University’s Maxwell School this morning to announce the creation of FAIR Health, a not-for-profit company that will become the clearinghouse for out-of-network health care reimbursement rates. Those rates are currently set almost exclusively by the Ingenix company, against which Cuomo has crusaded. He reached settlements with major health insurance companies to fund the new company, which will draw information from researchers at a consortium of five upstate universities: The University of Rochester, Syracuse, Cornell, Upstate Medical Center and SUNY Buffalo.

Cuomo will make a similarly “historic” announcement this afternoon in Rochester. He has said that “the politics doesn’t help me do my government job.” It’s pretty clear that his government job helps him do the politics, whatever they are.

“This groundbreaking announcement is great news for everyone here at the University, for the citizens of Syracuse and for all of the citizens across upstate New York,” Matt Driscoll, the mayor of Syracuse, said. “It will create real, secure and crucial jobs: researchers, statisticians, and economists by drawing from the powerful resources of an advanced upstate New York network. The FAIR Health system will stimulate the upstate economy where it certainly needed. Looking ahead, the FAIR Health system will serve as a business incubator for Syracuse and all of upstate New York.”

“I’m truly honored to be here for today’s historic announcement,” State Senator David Valesky, a marginal Democrat, The groundbreaking health care reform that we are announcing today are the results of the dedicated and tireless leadership of this state’s attorney general: Andrew Cuomo.”

Cuomo took the podium, and thanked Valesky for the introduction. He said “good morning, Syracuse” and then exhorted the crowd to answer him in a louder chorus than they were at first willing. He thanked Valesky for the “kind introduction,” then led applause for every elected official present: State Senators Malcolm Smith and John Sampson, two leaders of the chamber’s Democratic conference, as well as State Senator Bill Stachowski of Buffalo, Driscoll and Assembly members Bill Magnarelli, Joan Christensen and Al Stirpe. He went through a PowerPoint presentation to explain the “somewhat technical information” about how the new company would work. Then he reflected on how awesome it all was.

“For those of us in government–many of us in here today–the reason we’re in public service, and the only factor in the equation that makes public service rational, is we believe we have the chance to actually make a difference,” Cuomo said. “And actually have a reform, make some progress that’s actually going to make somebody’s life better. That’s what keeps us doing what we’re doing, despite it all. Despite the publicity, despite the aggravation–despite some of the more negative aspects. In government, you believe you can make a difference. Today, my friends, we’ve made a difference. And we are going to make a difference not just for Syracuse, and not just for upstate New York, but this is going to be a difference that resonates nationwide.”