This post is part of a two-part blog series on unaccompanied minors in New York. View the first post here. Last month, the Children’s Defense Fund – New York and the Health Care for All NY coalition presented two webinars on unaccompanied minors and access to health services. The full recordings and materials for Unaccompanied Minors and Health Care Access and Unaccompanied Minors and Behavioral Health Services are available at the HCFANY website.
Guest Post: Lorraine Gonzalez-Camastra, Director of Health Policy,
Children’s Defense Fund – NY
The United States is making steady progress in reducing the number of uninsured Hispanic children, even as the total population of Hispanic children grows, according to a report recently released by Georgetown Center for Children and Families. Since 2009, the number of Hispanic children who are uninsured has dropped by more than half a million, while the total number of Hispanic children grew by more than a million. New York is one of three states nationally that has rates of uninsured Hispanic children that are well below the national average. While this is a huge accomplishment, it is important to consider how the recent surge in unaccompanied children nationally, and in New York State, might impact uninsurance rates. These children will need to be connected to a means for health insurance coverage to avoid an uptick in the uninsurance rate for Hispanics nationally and in New York State, specifically.
In response to the latest surge of unaccompanied children who have arrived in New York State, mainly populating the downstate region, the New York City Council, in partnership with the Robin Hood Foundation and New York Community Trust, has secured resources for legal services to represent these children at immigration and deportation proceedings. Additionally, the Council and Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs have also begun to organize an accessible pathway to social service supports for these children/youth on-site at the federal immigration court in New York City. Most concretely, Mayor de Blasio’s administration has created a resource directory for the unaccompanied minor population so that front-line workers can direct children and families to appropriate support services.
New York State reflects a very diverse demographic. It can be daunting for newly immigrated families to become acculturated to Americanized social service systems that offer health care, education, and other supports. For children who arrive unaccompanied, the experience can be all the more intimidating.
It is essential that city and state officials employ social service policies that are user-friendly by children and families, especially new immigrants. In New York City and State, we have worked to gain some successes in this area. Moving ahead, we must continue to keep pace with the rising demand of Hispanic and other ethnicities entering our local communities.
HCFANY is co-hosting a Twitter chat with MomsRising and U.S. Representative Charles Rangel tomorrow. We’ll be talking about healthcare resources for New Yorkers, with a special focus on the Basic Health Program.
DATE: Wednesday, April 23rd
TIME: 2-3pm ET / 11am-12pm PT
WHERE: On Twitter with the hashtag #WellnessWed
WHO: @HCFANY, @MomsRising, @cbrangel, & YOU
The Basic Health Program, which is part of the Affordable Care Act, gives states the option to provide more affordable, public health coverage to lower-income people whose income is too high to qualify for Medicaid. The New York State legislature recently approved a Basic Health Program in this year’s budget. This is great news for working New Yorkers who struggle to pay the cost of health insurance while juggling rent, utilities and other bills. It’s also good news for our State’s fiscal outlook – the program is projected to save New York $300 million per year once it’s implemented. This is partly because New York State already uses State funds to cover some New Yorkers who will be eligible for the new, mostly federally funded program (e.g. lawfully present immigrants under 138% FPL).
Want to learn more? Have something to add about the Basic Health Program in New York? Make sure to follow @hcfany and #WellnessWed to participate in the conversation. Join in and share your questions, stories, resources and more!
Since most (all?) of our readers are not members of the press, I thought I would share some more resources from last week’s HCFANY press briefing. Posted above is a video put together by the good folks at New American Media, who co-hosted the event. Click below for copies of the presentations from the event.
- “The Affordable Care Act: What is it & what does it mean for New York?” Elisabeth Benjamin, Community Service Society
- “Update on the New York Health Benefit Exchange,” Sara Rothstein, New York Health Benefit Exchange
- “Latino/a Immigrants and the Affordable Care Act,” Becca Telzak, Make the Road New York
Written by guest blogger Lorraine Gonzalez-Camastra, Director of Health Policy for Children’s Defense Fund-NY and HCFANY Steering Committee Member
In T minus five months, New York State will begin enrollment through its new Health Benefit Exchange. The goal on October 1st, 2013 will be to enroll as many of the 2.6 million uninsured New Yorkers as possible, and eliminate the number of children and youth who are without coverage.
However, the truth is that most New Yorkers don’t understand what health reform entails and many may not have even heard of the Health Benefit Exchange. This is more so for immigrant communities and those with English as a second language. New York prides itself on its diversity, but with rates of uninsurance among racial and ethnic minorities nearly double that of white New Yorkers, getting the word out on the Health Benefit Exchange will need to entail getting the word out in over 175 languages and dialects. 
On Friday, April 26th, HCFANY and NAM co-hosted an informational press briefing geared towards ethnic media to build understanding around the different provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), the New York State Health Benefit Exchange, and what’s at stake for New York’s children and youth. Media outlets representing the Chinese, Indian, Turkish, Haitian, Filipino, Russian, and Latino communities attended the event and engaged in a dialogue about what their communities need from the Health Benefit Exchange and fellow advocates in order to guarantee that their populations are ready to enroll come October 1st. Presentations conducted by staff from the New York State Health Benefit Exchange, Community Service Society, Children’s Defense Fund NY, Make the Road NY, and the Coalition for Asian-American Children and Families detailed New York’s progress and plans for ACA implementation, as well as what advocates and stakeholders on the front lines know to be important elements of implementation for children and families in ethnic communities.