HCFANY Supporters Plan 2016 Strategy at Annual Meeting

 

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Eighty representatives of HCFANY member groups and supporters came to Albany to network with other advocates, get updates on the fight for quality, affordable health care in New York, and plan strategy at HCFANY’s Annual Meeting on January 8.

Our guest speakers emphasized the continuing strong progress health reform is making, statewide and nationally.  Danielle Holahan, the Deputy Director of the NY State of Health, reported that the number of uninsured New Yorkers has declined by an estimated 700,000, lowering the uninsured rate to its lowest point in decades.  Jackie Cornell-Bechelli, the Regional Director of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, similarly pointed to major gains in enrollment on the national level.

However, as a panel of HCFANY leaders emphasized, there’s still more work for us do to ensure that all New Yorkers have health insurance, that the coverage and care we receive is of high quality, and that consumers can effectively use their coverage.  They outlined HCFANY’s Legislative Agenda for 2016, including:

  • state funding for Community Health Advocates, a program that helps consumers understand and effectively use their coverage and access care;
  • the creation of a new program to fund community groups and small business-serving groups to do outreach to consumers in “hard to reach” communities; and
  • funding to cover a small group of New York immigrants who are lawful residents but not covered under the new Essential Plan.

In the afternoon, participants broke into Planning Groups to develop strong campaigns to take action on HCFANY’s priority 2016 issues.  At the immigrant coverage breakout, advocates discussed the name and structure of this exciting new campaign and new partners we should reach out to. The outreach and consumer assistance breakout discussed best practices for reaching the uninsured.  The network adequacy group identified issues relating to network adequacy that diverse communities in New York experience, including rural communities and artists.  Finally, the payment and delivery system reform breakout talked about opportunities to bring consumer voices into the state’s transformation efforts, including organizing a caucus of consumer advocates participating in the payment and delivery system reform workgroups.

For more information on any of these initiatives, please contact Carrie Tracy at ctracy@cssny.org.

 

@mx_214The ACA has helped New York close the coverage gap by enrolling over 2.7 million New Yorkers into coverage. But some New Yorkers remain ineligible for these new options for affordable coverage because of immigration status limitations on affordability programs.

The Community Service Society, a HCFANY Steering Committee member, released a new report today that offers an in-depth analysis of costs, eligibility and coverage options related to providing affordable and high-quality health insurance to nearly a half million unauthorized immigrants living in New York who are uninsurable due to their immigration status.

The paper, “How New York Can Provide Health Coverage to its Uninsured Immigrant Residents,” describes three coverage options that would improve health coverage for a vulnerable segment of the state’s population while also closing the coverage gap left by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Despite the state’s expansive public insurance programs, there are as many as 457,000 unauthorized immigrants ineligible for coverage. Uninsured people are more likely to get sick and even die younger, and the cost of care can mean financial ruin for uninsured families. Treating uninsured patients also strains the budgets of community health care providers that treat them.

The policy paper investigates three coverage options that would extend health insurance to between 90,100 and 241,600 immigrants New Yorkers who are ineligible for Medicaid and Marketplace coverage due to their immigration status. Funding even the most ambitious of these proposals would result in a less than one percent increase in the state’s health budget of roughly $65 billion.

The report also points out a more modest policy fix that New York could enact this year, while the State considers the more comprehensive options outlined in the report. This option, the Essential Plan “Clean Up,” would extend Essential Plan coverage to about 5,500 lawful immigrants in New York with immigration statuses that would make them eligible for Medicaid in New York, but not for the federally-funded Essential Plan. These New Yorkers include young adults who qualify for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals status, also known as the Dreamers.

 

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As we celebrate the holidays and ring in the New Year, we now have more reason for merriment – Governor Cuomo has just signed legislation that gives pregnant women the right to enroll in Qualified Health Plans through the State’s Marketplace at any time during the year! Until now, pregnant women had to wait to apply for health insurance until the annual open enrollment period. HCFANY is proud to say that New York is the first state in the nation to adopt such an important law, demonstrating leadership in promoting access to health insurance for all!

The passage and signing of S5972/A6780 is significant and commendable because having health insurance during pregnancy can improve the health of mothers and their babies.   Timely, quality pre-natal care can decrease the likelihood that a pregnant women will face health problems or that her baby will be born premature. According to the March of Dimes, nearly 9% of babies born in New York State are pre-term, which puts them at risk for many health problems. The new legislation should help decrease that percentage, assuring that more babies in New York get a healthy start in life.

The new special enrollment period may also significantly decrease healthcare costs for pregnant women who sign up for health insurance. Charges for pre-natal care and hospital care can be daunting for uninsured women. The costs quickly add up due to numerous pre-natal visits, ultrasounds, blood work and screening tests. Giving birth in a hospital is very expensive. On average, health insurance companies pay $9,800 for a normal delivery and $15,000 for a c-section, according to the International Federation of Health Plans. As of today, women in New York State will not have to worry about the full cost of pre-natal care and giving birth. Thanks to the new law, they will be able to access the full array of health services needed for a healthy pregnancy, birth and healthy baby.

HCFANY applauds New York State lawmakers and Governor Cuomo for working to protect the health of mothers and babies. You can read the governor’s press release here. Pregnant women will now be able to enroll on the Marketplace as soon as a doctor confirms they are expecting by going to the New York State of Health Marketplace. Women can also contact the Community Service Society Navigator Network for free enrollment assistance.

Welcome to National LGBT Week of Action for Enrollment! The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), the White House, Out2Enroll and partners across the country and New York State are collaborating this week to reach uninsured LGBT people and get them enrolled in health insurance for 2016. The deadline to apply for coverage that starts January 1 is next week, December 15.out to enroll

Members of the Health Care For All New York (HCFANY) LGBT Task Force are providing culturally competent enrollment assistance for LGBT New Yorkers, helping them apply for coverage through the NY State of Health Marketplace. These Task Force members include the Community Service Society, Callen Lorde Community Health Center, the LGBT Community Center in Manhattan and its partner in Queens, Voces Latinas, GMHC and Make the Road New York.

The National LGBT Week of Action for Enrollment celebrate the immense progress for LGBT health policy over the last few years since passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). HHS LGBT Issues Coordinating Committee Co-Chairs Kathy Greenlee and Wanda Jones took the opportunity this week to launch the 2015 HHS LGBT Annual Report and described new potential efforts to require electronic medical records systems to collect information on gender identity, sex assigned at birth and sexual orientation by 2018. Other exciting advancements include (1) proposed regulations implementing section 1557 of the ACA will bar discrimination against LGBT people in health care coverage and access, (2) a proposed Center for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) National Coverage Determination Criteria Guideline for transgender medical care services, and (3) efforts to institute data collection on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity.

HCFANY’s LGBT Task Force is working hard on many of these same issues at the state level. The Task Force has provided LGBT cultural competency training to more than 150 Navigators across the state so they can better serve LGBT people who want to apply for coverage. The Task Force also advocated for issuance of state policies requiring coverage of medically-necessary care that transgender people need by both private insurance and Medicaid. Listening sessions have been helping the Task Force and state officials identify needed follow up action to ensure compliance with these transgender coverage policies.

Want to learn more about coverage for yourself or an LGBT loved one? Contact the Community Health Advocates hotline at 888-614-5400, or visit the NY State of Health website to learn about your coverage options, which include the new very low-cost Essential Plan.