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HealthNow CEO speaks at State Senate hearing

The president and CEO of HealthNow New York, the region’s largest health insurance company, spoke at a State Senate session held Wednesday in Albany to delve into the reasons behind last fall’s multimillion-dollar collapse of Health Republic Insurance, the popular insurance offered through the NY State of Health exchange.

David W. Anderson was one of two health insurance company executives invited to speak before the State Senate Health and Insurance Committees, along with William J. Golden, CEO of UnitedHealthcare of New York.

The session comes three months after state and federal regulators ordered the shut down of Health Republic, one of the largest of the co-op insurers created through the Affordable Care Act to encourage competition on the health insurance exchanges established in New York and across the country. Regulators said they acted because Health Republic, which generally offered plans with the lowest premium prices on the exchange, was likely to become financially insolvent.

In his prepared remarks Wednesday, Anderson said Health Republic was “under-capitalized and under-funded from the start,” and decisions made by regulators in Albany and Washington “only exacerbated the problem.” In particular, he criticized as flawed the state Department of Financial Services’ “prior approval” process of rate setting.

The department is conducting its own investigation into what caused Health Republic’s collapse.

Health Republic was the most popular insurer on the exchange in Western New York, and its members here have scrambled to find insurance coverage for the end of 2015 and 2016.