Georgetown Center for Children and Families conference recap

Last week child health advocates from across the country came together in Washington, DC for the Georgetown University Health Policy Institute’s Center for Children and Families annual conference. This year’s conference theme was “Building a Strong Foundation,” including strengthening and protecting Medicaid, CHIP, and the ACA.

Georgetown CCF conference smallWe heard from experts in the field on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services’ (CMS) proposed changes to the Medicaid Managed Care regulations. These changes to Medicaid will affect millions of low-income kids in America. The proposed changes to the regulations would raise the standards for quality assurance and network adequacy, and strengthen other consumer protections. There were also presentations on the future of Medicaid and CHIP.

HCFANY’s Children, Youth & Families Task Force represented New York consumer advocates at the conference. Our own Lorraine Gonzalez-Camastra’s presented on “Health Coverage for People in Immigrant Families.” We also shared the news about recent New York consumer victories, like New York’s CHP effective date bill and our first-in-the-nation special enrollment period for pregnancy, in breakout sessions with consumer advocates from other states. State-based advocacy is stronger when we learn and share from one another!

Already more than two million New Yorkers have gained affordable health coverage through the NY State of Health marketplace, but there are still some people (namely women!) who may find themselves left behind. First-in-the-nation legislation providing special insurance enrollment options for pregnant women passed both the State Assembly and State Senate a few weeks ago and awaits the Governor’s signature.baby talking 2

In the past, moderate- and higher-income uninsured women who become pregnant had to wait to enroll in private health insurance. Low-income women can enroll in Medicaid at any time, but their higher-income counterparts can be left without affordable prenatal and maternity care. Lack of coverage can lead poor health outcomes for mom and baby. Improved maternal and child health outcomes support the New York State Prevention Agenda, and it’s the right thing to do.

Senate Bill 5972/Assembly Bill 6780-B creates a special enrollment period (SEP) for uninsured women who become pregnant and seek coverage outside of the open enrollment period. HCFANY urges Governor Cuomo to sign it into law. You can send a message here or call 518-474-8390 to ask him to sign S.5972/A.6780-B today!

On July 10, 2015 the 5th Circuit Court began weighing the merits of the court case Texas v. the United States. This lawsuit was filed in order to block President Obama’s executive order of November 2014. The President’s order included the expansion of Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)* for young people who came here as children, and created a new program called Deferred Action for Parents of Americans and Lawful Permanent Residents (DAPA) to allow parents of children born in the United States to apply for administrative relief.

If the program is allowed to move forward, “DACAmented” or “DAPAmented” individuals would be allowed to apply for a social security number and work authorization.   Immigration and health advocates in New York State were jubilant when the President first announced his executive order. Not only do these programs offer undocumented immigrants the opportunity to live without fear of deportation, obtain a driver’s license, and work with the protections of the Labor Department, but individuals who have applied for these programs will be eligible for Medicaid in New York State if they meet income requirements.

It’s estimated that as many as 350,000 New York State residents could potentially be eligible for administrative relief, and as many as half of them could qualify for Medicaid once the programs are in operation.

The timeline following the July 10 hearings is hard to predict. Depending on the outcome of the 5th Circuit decision, either side could ask the Supreme Court to review the case, which would very likely extend into 2016. In the meantime, HCFANY members like the New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road – New York are working to prepare immigrant communities for administrative relief and taking advantage of the time to get the word out to service providers about Medicaid eligibility. Immigrants continue to wait for relief with high hopes.

 

* The court case and injunction leaves the original 2012 Deferred Action program unchanged.

One of the bills that will make its way to the Governor’s desk this summer will protect infants who qualify for Child Health Plus, the state’s free or low cost health insurance program for children, from a coverage gap at birth.

Currently, a family must enroll a child after the child’s birth and coverage begins up to 45 days later. This gap in coverage is an unnecessary stressor on a family that should be able to focus on welcoming their new child. Any gap in coverage forces infants to go without much needed care and places financial strain on low and moderate income families.

The legislation that recently passed both houses of the legislature (A7155B/S4745B) makes an important change by allowing for coverage to begin on the date of a child’s birth when their parent enrolls the baby in coverage prior to their birth or within 60 days of the birth.

Governor Cuomo must still sign the bill for it to become law. HCFANY urges the Governor to sign A7155B/S4745B to assure that babies eligible for Child Health Plus have health coverage right from the start.

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