Guest post: Elisabeth R. Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives, Community Service Society of New York
The eagerly awaited Cuomo Administration’s budget bill was posted late Wednesday afternoon, January 21, 2015. The health section is a mere 170 pages long, making it a tough winter evening read. HCFANY’s policy experts and allies will parse the details over the next week and post a detailed reaction…err, later. However, we have identified two bits of good news for New York’s health insurance consumers right away.
First, the Governor Cuomo proposed a broad-based insurance financing mechanism for the NY State of Health Marketplace. This is good news for individuals and small employers because it means that those folks who are insured through the Marketplace will not disproportionately shoulder the burden of guaranteeing affordable, quality health coverage for New Yorkers. The alternative of placing a financing fee on marketplace enrollees would have resulted in Marketplace enrollees paying higher insurance rates than individuals and groups covered by plans purchased outside of the Marketplace. The broad-based financing mechanism proposed by the Administration will ensure a level playing field for all New York’s health insurance consumers.
The second piece of great news is that the Cuomo Administration has proposed $2.5 million in state funding for the Community Health Advocates (CHA) program. CHA has offered information about how to enroll and use health insurance coverage and care to nearly 200,000 New Yorkers since its launch in late 2010. CHA’s network of 21 community based organizations, small business serving groups (like Chambers of Commerce), and specialists serve New Yorkers both in their local communities and through a live answer help-line. Together, CHA’s groups act as an “HR” department for New York’s health insurance consumers who need a little extra help accessing or understanding how to get care.
HCFANY lauds Governor Cuomo’s Administration on these proposals and looks forward to working with the Administration during this legislative season.