The Fight for Our Health Care Continues!

keep goingLast Thursday, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA). If the AHCA were to become law, 2.7 New Yorkers would lose their health insurance, Medicaid would be cut by more than $800 billion, and protections for people with pre-existing conditions would be severely weakened. Seven of New York State’s nine Republican Representatives voted in favor of the bill; two Republicans voted against it; and all 18 Democrats voted against it. The bill is now in the Senate for further consideration and revision.

However, the conversation on the AHCA and what it will mean for New Yorkers is not over! Members of Congress left for recess shortly after the vote and came home to face constituents, many of whom were dismayed by the passage of the devastating legislation.

In the days following the vote, town halls took place in the districts of Representatives King, Faso, Stefanik and Reed, who all voted in favor of the AHCA. Representatives King and Faso did not attend the town halls in their districts, and Representatives Collins, Tenney, and Zeldin, who also voted in favor of the bill, did not host town halls. This video from the town hall in Representative Reed’s district provides some insight into how some constituents are feeling about the AHCA and how they think it would affect their care.

It is not too late to call your Representatives and tell them how you feel about the AHCA and about their votes. You can call your Representatives in their districts using the numbers listed here:

Voted Against the AHCA (Thank you!!)

  • Congressman Dan Donovan
    • Brooklyn Office (718) 630-5277
    • Staten Island Office (718) 351-1062
  • Congressman John Katko
    • Auburn/Lyons Offices (315) 253-4068
    • Oswego/Syracuse Offices (315) 423-5657

Voted for the AHCA (Start defending the health of constituents over tax cuts!)

  • Congressman Pete King
    • Massapequa Office (516) 541-6602
  • Congressman Tom Reed
    • Corning Office  (607) 654-7566
    • Geneva Office (315) 759-5229
    • Ithaca Office (607) 222-2027
    • Jamestown Office (716) 708-6369
    • Olean Office (716) 806-1069
  • Congresswoman Elise Stefanik
    • Glens Falls Office (518) 743-0964
    • Plattsburgh Office (518) 561-2324
    • Watertown Office (315) 782-1291
  • Congresswoman Claudia Tenney
    • Binghamton Office (607) 376-6002
    • New Hartford Office (315) 732-0713
  • Congressman  Lee Zeldin
    • Patchogue Office (631) 289-1097
    • East End Office (631) 209-4235

Albany, NY – Health Care for All New York (HCFANY), a statewide coalition of over 170 consumer advocacy organizations, expressed great dismay at the passage of the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Despite unprecedented opposition from constituents, House Republicans voted to take health care away from 2.7 million New Yorkers, abandon Americans with pre-existing conditions to hopelessly underfunded “high-risk” rationing pools, slash Medicaid, and raise health care costs for all families by up to 20 percent.

The passage of the AHCA threatens the high quality affordable health coverage offered to millions of New Yorkers through the New York State of Health marketplace, including the Essential Plan, individual commercial plans and Medicaid. The Affordable Care Act allowed 3.6 million New Yorkers to get health insurance by revitalizing New York’s individual market, increasing the number of people eligible for Medicaid, and creating the Essential Plan. The Medicaid program provides affordable care to six million New Yorkers who cannot afford private insurance. Over a third of the New Yorkers covered by Medicaid are children, while most of the spending on the program provides care to the elderly and people with disabilities. The AHCA’s cap on Medicaid will mean devastating cuts for New York’s most vulnerable.

We thank the New York Democratic delegation and, critically, Representatives Donovan and Katko for their courageous stand for New Yorkers against enormous political pressure.

We condemn the votes of Representatives Collins, Faso, King, Reed, Stefanik, Tenney, and Zeldin for failing to defend the health needs of hundreds of thousands of their constituents who have gained coverage under the ACA.

Guest blog by Lois Uttley, MPP, Director, Raising Women’s Voices-NY.

More than 55 million women across the United States have gained contraceptive coverage without co-pays as part of their health insurance policies, because of the Women’s Preventive Services Amendment to the Affordable Care Act (ACA). This coverage benefit, which applies to most employer-sponsored insurance as well as to health plans purchased through ACA marketplaces, is estimated to have saved the average woman about $240 a year in avoided out-of-pocket costs.

However, research by Raising Women’s Voices-NY has consistently found that insurers offering plans in New York are not always complying with ACA birth control coverage requirements. (Similar problems have been found in other states.) RWV-NY wrote to state officials in 2014 and 2016 to cite numerous apparent violations of the contraceptive coverage rules by New York insurers. Problems identified included failing to cover some of the 18 FDA-approved methods of contraception – especially IUDs, the patch and emergency contraception – inappropriately charging co-pays for some contraceptives and giving inaccurate or confusing information to women who called health plan customer service lines.

This week, the Cuomo administration took action against one New York insurer – Excellus Health Plans – for illegally denying consumers contraceptive coverage, among other problems. The state Department of Financial Services (DFS) fined Excellus $1 million for these violations. That action underscored the Department’s intention to hold insurers accountable for providing contraceptive coverage without co-pays. DFS sent a circular letter to insurers back in January, reminding them of their obligation to comply with the birth control coverage requirements of the ACA, and asserting that New York law independently requires such coverage.

The Cuomo administration went even further to articulate and expand contraceptive coverage requirements in New York through a regulation proposed in January, just as women’s organizations were expressing concern about a new federal administration that could move to rescind the ACA contraceptive coverage benefit.  The new Secretary of Health and Human Services, Tom Price, has been an outspoken opponent of contraceptive coverage requirements and of the ACA as whole.

Both Health Care For All New York and Raising Women’s Voices-NY submitted comments in March supporting the proposed state contraceptive coverage regulation and suggesting ways to make the requirements even stronger, such as by including coverage of male contraceptive methods (vasectomies and condoms) and requiring insurers to cover dispensing of a 12-month supply of birth control pills at once (which has been shown to help women avoid gaps in contraceptive use caused by having to refill prescriptions).

HCFANY and RWV-NY are also supporting legislation – the proposed Comprehensive Contraceptive Coverage Act – that would place robust contraceptive coverage requirements into state law. The bill has passed the state Assembly, but has not seen action in the state Senate.

RulesFollow up from blog posted February 21, 2017

Yesterday afternoon, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) issued a final rule claiming to stabilize the Affordable Care Act insurance markets. In fact, it does just the opposite.

HCFANY and thousands of other consumer and provider groups submitted comments in opposition to the proposed version of the rule because many of its provisions would have harmed consumers. However, the rule was finalized largely as proposed.

The final rule reduces the open enrollment period for individual and small group health insurance plans from 13 weeks to just six weeks, which gives consumers significantly less time to shop around for and enroll in the best plan for them.

The final rule also decreases the allowable actuarial values for health plans at each metal level, which could reduce the advanced premium tax credits (APTCs) that help make health plans purchased through the Marketplace more affordable for moderate-income individuals and families. According to an analysis from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, even a 2 percent decrease in actuarial value could result in a $327 reduction in APTCs for an individual.

The final rule will make it more difficult for consumers to qualify for and enroll in health coverage through special enrollment periods, which could lead to gaps in coverage and deter enrollment.

Currently, it is unclear how this rule will affect New York because state officials are still studying it closely. Come back to HCFANY next week for more information.