Many of you already follow us on Twitter (@hcfany) to get the latest health care updates in New York State and follow our advocacy efforts. If you don’t already, now is a good time to start!
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.
We are planning a similar press briefing for ethnic media outlets upstate in the coming months. Think of anyone we should be reaching out to? Please send press contacts to Arianne Slagle at email@example.com
 United States Census 2010.
Under the ACA, states are allowed the option of creating a Basic Health Plan (BHP) for low-income adults who earn too much to qualify for Medicaid. Ordinarily, if these folks don’t have employer-sponsored coverage then come 2014 they will be able to buy insurance through the Exchange with the help of federal tax credits. But, even with the tax credits this coverage may still be too expensive for them. The BHP then would act as a bridge between the free or low-cost Medicaid coverage and the higher priced options available on the Exchange.
Don’t be fooled by the name though - there is nothing “basic” about it. According to the ACA, BHP coverage must be as affordable and comprehensive as what these adults would have gotten on the Exchange. In New York, coverage would likely resemble that of the Family Health Plus program.
New York currently offers public coverage to low-income adults through its Family Health Plus program, the cost of which is split with the federal government. New York also pays for Medicaid coverage for low-income immigrants without help from the federal government. Through the BHP program, New York would be able to cover both of these groups and have the federal government pay for it all. This would save the state between $500 million and $1 billion per year.
Sounds great, right? Problem is, the federal government still hasn’t released guidance on this program, and isn’t planning on doing so anytime soon. Unfortunately, state policymakers won’t commit to the program until they are sure of all the details. So, until that happens, it is unlikely that New York will get any of the cost-savings and affordability protections that the BHP has to offer.
HCFANY has created a policy brief on this issue to explain it in detail, urge federal policymakers to release BHP guidance, and provide recommendations to state policymakers.
Click here to read HCFANY’s policy brief, titled “The Basic Health Program Option in the Affordable Care Act.”