LGBT immigrants face double challenges in getting covered

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Guest post: Lois Uttley, Director, Raising Women’s Voices – NY

All this week, HCFANY’s LGBT Task Force has been sponsoring events to reach uninsured LGBT New Yorkers with information about how to get enrolled in an affordable health insurance plan before the Feb. 15 deadline of open enrollment through the NY State of Health Marketplace.

An event on Tuesday in Jackson Heights, Queens, highlighted the fact that this is also national Latino outreach and enrollment week, and underscored the particular challenges facing LGBT New Yorkers who are also immigrants. The event was held at Voces Latinas, a NYS-certified Navigator agency that partners with the LGBT Community Center to serve the many Spanish-speaking LGBT people who live in Queens.

“Within New York City, LGBT individuals are disproportionately uninsured. These numbers increase when we factor immigration status and language barriers,” explained Nathaly Rubio-Torio, Executive Director of Voces Latinas. “Our navigators are bilingual, bicultural and fully culturally competent.”

Rubio-Torio (at left in photo) was joined at the event by (left to right in photo) NYC Council Member Danny Dromm, who represents Jackson Heights and is a member of the Council’s LGBT Caucus; Luis Scaccabarrozzi, Director of Health Policy and Advocacy for the Latino Commission on AIDS; Alexander Cortes, an enrollment specialist with Voces Latinas; and Lois Uttley, Co-Chair of HCFANY’s LGBT Task Force (not pictured).

Another of the organizations participating in this week’s events also has a special mission of serving LGBT immigrants. Make the Road NY is sponsoring an LGBT information and enrollment event this Friday night, January 16, from 6 to 8 p.m. at its 301 Grove St. Brooklyn office.

Guest Post: Kari Siddiqui, Policy Analyst, Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy

Everyone cheered when the Affordable Care Act (ACA) included a provision allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ health insurance until they turned 26.  An equally important and lesser-known provision extends health insurance coverage to young adults formerly in foster care, who are unlikely to have the option of receiving health coverage through family. The ACA extends Medicaid access to these youth, with no income restrictions, until they turn 26.

The Medicaid to 26 provision went into effect in January 2014 and offers health insurance coverage to the more than 20,000 youth who age out of foster care across the country each year. In New York State alone 1,283 youth aged out of foster care in 2012. These young adults particularly need health coverage as they transition from foster care into their independent adult lives.

The Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy, a member of the HCFANY steering committee, is working to ensure that young adults can take advantage of this benefit. With input from our State partners, the New York State Department of Health and the Office of Children and Family Services, Schuyler Center developed materials to help youth understand and access this benefit. Young adults with ties to foster care – those still in care and those who have aged out – are helping us to shape the message, target outreach, and design materials. Their input helps us understand how to reach youth where they are and communicate effectively.

Drawing on this input, Schuyler Center developed outreach and education materials, including a brochure with an application checklist, newsletter articles, videos (like the one above featuring Shanice), a youth-targeted Everything You Need to Know guide to the Medicaid to 26 benefit, as well as a toolkit for providers. Please join us in these outreach efforts, and use the materials we’ve created to reach youth and providers in New York State and in your communities across the country. Follow Schuyler Center on Twitter at @SchuylerCenter using the hashtag #Medicaidto26 and find all materials on our website: www.scaany.org/scaa-resources/medicaid-to-26

 

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It’s been a good week for health equity in New York!

Yesterday, New York State’s Department of Financial Services sent guidance to all commercial insurers in the state barring denials of medically necessary treatment for gender dysphoria. Gender dysphoria is a condition when a person’s identity at birth is different than who they know themselves to be on the inside. The guidance essentially says if an insurer covers a particular service (a double mastectomy, for example), the insurer can’t deny that service to a transgender person, purely on the basis of their gender identity.  Read our full press release here.

And earlier this week, the New York City Council voted to pass legislation that will allow trangender New Yorkers to change the sex on their birth certificate without providing proof of gender confirmation surgery. New York State made a similar policy change this past June. This legislation will help combat discrimination transgender New Yorkers might otherwise experience in healthcare access, as well as housing, employment, and other areas of their lives.

Equal access to health care for transgender people has been a key policy priority for HCFANY and its LGBT task force. These two policy victories signal important steps forward for the health of transgender New Yorkers.

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“The Affordable Care Act gave me a chance and ended my six year nightmare of living without health insurance. It was way more simple and affordable than people think.”

-Karen E., Ulster County

The Affordable Care Act is working in New York, according to HCFANY’s new publication, The ACA is Working: New Yorkers Tell Their Stories.

The new publication shares stories from New Yorkers like Karen, a single mother from Ulster County, who was finally able to get affordable health coverage for her family after being uninsured for six years, thanks to federal subsidies. Ben, from Broome county got covered thanks to the ACA’s Medicaid Expansion and enrolled in the same plan as his son. And Engracia got help from a local Navigator to enroll in a plan that saves her $4,500 a year.

The ACA is Working: New Yorkers Tell Their Stories features twelve consumer stories and quotes from New Yorkers in all regions of the State who enrolled in private Qualified Health Plans, Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and small business plans, all through the NY State of Health Marketplace during the first Open Enrollment period. Many got help to enroll from Navigators, who offer free, unbiased, in-person enrollment help. The stories are paired with key statistics and facts about how the ACA is working for New York – and most importantly, New Yorkers.

View HCFANY’s full press release here.