New Yorkers Continue to Flock to the NY State of Health

CelebrateNew York State’s official health plan Marketplace, the NY State of Health (NYSOH), announced this morning that more than 3.4 million New Yorkers have signed up for health coverage as of December 24, 2016. This represents more than a 22 percent increase in Marketplace participation since the end of the 2016 open enrollment period, and there is still almost a month left to enroll.

According to the press release, enrollment has increased in all 62 of New York’s counties and nearly 18 percent of the state population is now enrolled through NYSOH.

The release also notes the incredible success of New York’s Basic Health Plan, branded the Essential Plan, which now has more than 635,000 individuals enrolled.

Open enrollment continues through January 31, 2017. You can enroll in health coverage through the NYSOH website. If you need help enrolling, Navigators are available to provide in-person assistance. Please visit https://info.nystateofhealth.ny.gov/IPANavigatorSiteLocations or call (888) 614-5400 to find a Navigator in your area.

Sign HereLast week, the Enhanced Safety Net Hospital Reimbursement Bill, which HCFANY endorsed in May 2016, was sent to Governor Cuomo for his signature. The bill provides enhanced funding to safety net hospitals that:

  • Have at least 50 percent patients enrolled in Medicaid or uninsured
  • Have at least 40 percent of inpatient discharges covered by Medicaid
  • Have no more than 25 percent of patients commercially insured; and
  • Are facilities part of one of the state’s five public health systems or federally designated as a critical access or sole community hospital

This enhanced reimbursement is critical for true safety net hospitals, such as New York City Health + Hospitals System, that serve patients most in need and are struggling financially.

The bill passed unanimously in both the Senate and Assembly in June, and the Governor has until this Saturday, December 31 to sign it into law. No signature is tantamount to a veto.

Help make sure that Governor Cuomo signs the Enhanced Safety Net Hospital Reimbursement Bill into law. Please send a message to the Governor’s Office here or call (518) 474-8390 to tell Governor Cuomo to sign the bill and help our true safety net providers continue to serve the neediest New Yorkers.

Healthy TreeLast week, the Kaiser Family Foundation (KFF) released a new issue brief examining health coverage by race and ethnicity under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and its impact on disparities in health coverage. The KFF analysis found that non-elderly people of color have experienced larger coverage gains than non-elderly white people since the implementation of the ACA. According to KFF data, national uninsured rates decreased by 9 percentage points for Hispanic/Latino people, 7 percentage points for Asian people, and 5 percentage points for non-Hispanic Black people from 2013 to 2015 compared to 4 percentage points for white people.

People of color in New York State have experienced similar gains in coverage under the ACA. According to data from the United States Census Bureau, uninsured rates in New York State decreased by 10.2 percentage points for American Indian/Alaskan Native people, 7.3 percentage points for Hispanic/Latino people, 6.3 percentage points for Asian people, and 4.9 percentage points for non-Hispanic Black people from 2013 to 2015 compared to 3.3 percentage points for white people. The only group that did not experience these comparatively larger coverage gains was the Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander population.

This an important step forward in the reduction of health coverage disparities. However, the KFF brief warns that even with the larger coverage gains, people of color are still more likely to be uninsured than white people. Nationally, people of color accounted for more than half of the 28.5 million remaining uninsured in 2015.

Targeted outreach and enrollment efforts to reach the remaining uninsured, many of whom are eligible for coverage as well as financial assistance, could augment these coverage gains and continue the progress toward health coverage equity that has already begun under the ACA.

The Affordable Care Act made a lot of changes – and improvements – to health insurance. But it was also meant to encourage changes in how health care is delivered – the care you get at the hospital, doctor’s office, pharmacy, and other places where people get health care.

Many people have frustrating experiences with health care that go beyond how it’s paid for. Maybe you can’t make an appointment without skipping work, or can’t get your prescription filled on time because of communication problems and end up skipping doses. Maybe you had to get a test done twice because re-doing it was easier than transferring your records to a new physician. Delivery system reform is meant to make the experience of getting health care better – in an ideal world, there would be seamless delivery system that lets doctors and patients focus on their health, not logistics.

HCFANY has produced a new issue brief to help consumers understand what is happening. Delivery system reform could be a great thing for everyone, but changing systems is always hard. A lot of stakeholders have learned to succeed under the status quo, and are afraid of changing how they do business. Consumers need to educate themselves about how delivery reform can benefit them and use their knowledge to encourage reform that benefits patients.