Governor Cuomo released his proposed 2014-2015 Executive Budget yesterday afternoon. After some quick analysis, we found at least three exciting provisions for health care consumers:
- Basic Health Program: We were thrilled to find that the Budget includes a Basic Health Program, one of HCFANY’s top priorities over the last several years. This program is an option in the Affordable Care Act and provides federal funding to states that establish a BHP for adults between 133-200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level and all legally present immigrants up to 200 percent of FPL. New York’s Medicaid expansion program already provides free public insurance to adults up to 138 percent of FPL. Legally present immigrants are also currently covered under Medicaid with State funds – with a BHP, New York can receive federal funds for covering these consumers, which saves the State money. The BHP would offer affordable insurance to low- to moderate-income consumers who badly need it – New Yorkers just above the Medicaid threshold often have very little savings and no disposable income with which to pay for health insurance. You can read more about the Basic Health Program in our new policy brief on the topic.
- Out-of-network protections: The Budget also includes important improvements to provider network adequacy and provisions to protect consumers from surprise out-of-network bills. Without these protections, too many New Yorkers find themselves saddled with large medical bills they had no way to prevent. In an emergency situation, a consumer may end up in an out-of-network hospital or treated by an out-of-network provider, with no time to choose otherwise. Other consumers may have a non-emergency procedure in an in-network hospital or clinic, only to find that an out-of-network provider played some part in their care. Today, consumers who receive these bills have no opportunity to negotiate the amount billed. The new legislation would change this scenario for consumers. Our policy brief about improving coverage for all has more information about the importance of out-of-network protections.
- Support for consumer assistance programs: Consumer assistance programs offer critical support to help New Yorkers find, keep, and use their health insurance. We are pleased that Governor Cuomo proposes to continue support for these important programs. Take a look at our our new brief on making the Marketplace consumer-friendly to learn more about our views on consumer assistance.
Yesterday, we sent a media release about these three issues. HCFANY partners continue to cull through the hundreds of pages of the Executive Budget and related legislation to understand the implications for affordable, quality health care in our state. We’ll update you as we learn more.