Posted on May 1, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
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. 
However, have no fear! Health Care for All New York’s (HCFANY) Children Youth and Families Task Force is on the case with the support of New America Media (NAM).
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.
Filed under: ACA, Immigrants, Insurance Exchange, Uninsured | Tagged: HCFANY Events, Implementation, Insurance Exchange, Kids | Comments Off
Posted on April 8, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
A couple of months ago, the state-sponsored report (written by our friends at the Center for Popular Democracy) on how to reduce health disparities through the New York Health Benefit was released, outlining a myriad of recommendations culled from a stakeholder meeting held back in September. You can read the Center for Popular Democracy report here.
HCFANY commends the Exchange for its ongoing examination of many issues in regard to health disparities and the Center for Popular Democracy for airing some of the most critical topics in its report. However, we felt that some of the issues touched on in the report require further consideration by the Exchange and that the State needs to take this initiative a step further and reach policy conclusions, set concrete goals, and settle upon a practical mechanism for reaching those goals. Basically, we feel that the State’s implementation of an insurance Exchange is a once in a lifetime shot to make some serious systemic changes that can actually make a difference, and that the State isn’t doing enough to take advantage of this situation. To outline our concerns, HCFANY recently issued a series of comments to the State. You can read our comments here.
Lastly, this past Friday we received a response from the State to our comments. It doesn’t say much other than to acknowledge that they received it. But hey, at least it’s something to get the conversation started, right? You can click here to read the State’s response.
Filed under: ACA, Health Disparities | Tagged: disparities, Implementation, Insurance Exchange | Comments Off
Posted on March 25, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
Big changes are coming this October! New York’s Health Benefit Exchange will open, giving uninsured individuals and families a place where they can compare and buy healthcare plans that are quality and affordable. Some will even qualify for tax credits that will make these plans cheaper. Public insurance plans like Medicaid and Child Health Plus will also be available on the Exchange.
But with millions of New Yorkers eligible for coverage through the Exchange, and many of them living in New York City, how can we make sure people get the right information? What type of outreach and enrollment will be happening during the summer and fall months? How can your organization help in this effort?
To find out more, join Health Care for All New York at our New York City briefing on Thursday, March 28th from 9:00-11:30 am (registration and light breakfast at 8:30 am). Speakers will include Rachel Klein from Enroll America and Sara Rothstein from the New York health Benefits Exchange.
Filed under: ACA | Tagged: ACA, HCFANY Events, Implementation, Insurance Exchange | Comments Off
Posted on March 11, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
For anyone not on HCFANY’s email list – we will be holding an emergency coalition call TODAY at 3 PM to discuss ACA implementation in the NYS budget. Several key issues for health insurance consumers are on the table. How they are resolved will determine the success of the ACA in New York, and whether people will be better or worse off in the future.
Call-in number: 712-432-0080
Access code: 178-816#
- Welcome & Review of current HCFANY Priorities & Politics – Jess Wisneski, Citizen Action of New York
- Breakdown of our budget priorities:
- Family Health Plus – Elisabeth R. Benjamin, Community Service Society of NY
- Health Insurance changes – Heidi Siegfried, New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage
- Good News: Charity Care & Community Health Advocates Funding Stream – Carrie Tracey, Community Service Society of NY
- Action Item 1: Organizational Sign On letter. Read the letter and sign your group on HERE.
- Action Item 2: Press Event Wednesday 11:00AM – LCA Press room, Legislative Office Building, Albany – followed by last minute advocacy at the Capitol. Who can join us?
- Action Item 3: Make calls to important leaders:
6. Post-Budget Preview & Close: Public Education/Outreach work – Jess Wisneski, Citizen Action of NY
Filed under: ACA, Federal health reform, New York State Budget | Tagged: ACA, budget, Federal health reform, Implementation | Comments Off
Posted on January 29, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
Implementation of New York’s health benefit Exchange is now well underway, and policymakers are estimating that over one million New Yorkers will enroll in some form of health insurance through the Exchange. Yet, the vast majority of New Yorkers still don’t understand what the Exchange is or what it will do. Many others have not even heard about it yet.
With the Exchange set to start accepting enrollment applications in October of this year, it is quickly becoming clear that the State is in dire need of a public engagement campaign.
What it boils down to is that there are currently around 2.8 million New Yorkers who are uninsured. The Exchange is, above all, being created so that these folks will be able to find and enroll into quality, affordable health coverage. But, how can the State policymakers who are designing and implementing the Exchange know that they are building a system that will work for New York’s uninsured, without actually asking them about it?
At the same time, in order the reach its goal of getting one milion New Yorkers enrolled through the Exchange, the State will have to find a way to get these one million New Yorkers informed about the Exchange, motivated to pursue coverage through it, and able to use the system.
That’s a lot to accomplish in just 8 months!
HCFANY has put together a short policy brief on this issue, with recommendations for State policymakers on how to get the public engaged and informed about the NYS Exchange.
Filed under: ACA, Comprehensive Coverage, Federal health reform, Insurance Exchange, Insurance reform, New York Health Benefit Exchange, Public Health, Uninsured | Tagged: enrollment, Federal health reform, Implementation, Insurance Exchange | Comments Off
Posted on January 25, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
Yesterday, the NYS Exchange hosted a webinar briefing for members of the State’s Regional Advisory Committees. The webinar provides an update and timeline on the forthcoming health plan invitations to participate in the Exchange, and the Navigator program.
The presentation also includes a draft of the standard plan designs that will be offered on the Exchange for individual coverage so you can see the differences in the “precious metal” product tiers and cost-sharing associated with each.
Click here to view the presentation slides.
Filed under: ACA, Comprehensive Coverage, Consumer Assistance, Federal health reform, Insurance Exchange, Insurance reform, New York Health Benefit Exchange, State Department of Health | Tagged: ACA, Implementation, Insurance Exchange, navigators | Comments Off
Posted on January 18, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
Kudos to everyone able to make the trek up to Albany yesterday during the depths of a particularly nasty flu season - we actually had a great turnout!
Fellow HCFANY-ers and guests got a chance to go over and discuss our advocacy agenda for this yeat, which centers around implementation of consumer-friendly Exchange and strategies to fill in the gaps in affordable coverage. In particular, we aim to focus on the following 5 things:
- A robust public engagement campaign
- The creation of a basic health plan
- Merging the individual and small group markets
- Extending Child Health Plus to adults, and
- Promoting health equity,
You can read more about HCFANY’s advocacy agenda by clicking here.
Danielle Holahan, Deputy Director of the NYS Exchange, also gave a brief update on what’s happening with the Exchange. You can see her presentation by clicking here.
Stay tuned in the coming days for more specific details on our advocacy agenda items!
Filed under: ACA, Federal health reform, Insurance Exchange, Underinsured, Uninsured | Tagged: ACA, HCFANY annual meetiing, Implementation, Insurance Exchange | Comments Off
Posted on January 14, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
A lot of folks think that 2014 is when the Affordable Care Act will really kick into effect, and yes, that is when the health insurance Exchanges will become fully operational. And yes, those are a big part of the ACA. But, they’re not the whole thing!
Many great things have already happened in the years since the law was implemented, including small business tax credits, a new coverage option for uninsured folks with pre-existing conditions, free preventive care, and allowing young people to stay on their parents’ plan until the age of 26.
And, 2013 will be no exception! There are more good things in store for us this year. Here is a roundup of some of what’s to come:
- More subsidies for seniors who hit the donut hole: Seniors who hit the Medicare Part D coverage gap will now get federal subsidies for brand-name prescriptions (in addition to the 50% manufacturer brand-name discount that went into effect in 2011).
- Improving Preventive Care: State Medicaid programs that offer free or low cost preventive services will get increased federal funding to do so. This means that low-income folks in many states will have better access to vaccinations, tests like colonoscopies and mammograms and routine screenings for high blood pressure, diabetes, and cholesterol.
- Increased Medicaid payments to doctors: On January 1st, Medicaid payments for primary care doctors were brought up to Medicare levels. In New York, this will mean an estimated increase of 156% in Medicaid payments to doctors and will help to ensure low-income New Yorkers have sufficient access to doctors. For more info on this, check out the Kaiser Family Foundation report titled, “How Much Will Medicaid Physician Fees for Primary Care Rise in 2013? Evidence from a 2012 Survey of Medicaid Physician Fees”
- CHIP funding will be extended: the ACA will authorize funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) through 2015 (extended from 2013). In New York, this program is called Child Health Plus. This will allow roughly 400,000 kids in New York to keep their free or low-cost health insurance.
Of course, not all of the ACA changes happening in 2013 will be a clear-cut “goody.” 2013 will also see a number of tax changes, including an increase in Medicare taxes for higher income earners (in order to boost up the Medicare trust), an exise tax of 2.3% on the sale of medical devices, and changes to FSA limits. For a full list of changes, check out the Kaiser Family Foundation’s Implementation timeline.
Filed under: ACA, Comprehensive Coverage, Medicaid, Medicare | Tagged: ACA, Federal health reform, Implementation, Kids, Medicaid, Medicare, Obamacare | Comments Off
Posted on January 10, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
Governor Cuomo gave his annual State of the State address yesterday, and we at HCFANY were generally pleased to see the inclusion of the state’s health benefit Exchange in the Governor’s progressive agenda.
Much of the speech focused on the state’s economic revitalization, and we believe that a consumer-friendly Exchange will do much to further economic growth in New York. We know that the Exchange will lower health insurance costs significantly for consumers and small businesses, and that’s money in people’s pockets. The added preventive care benefits provided by the Affordable Care Act will also help to lower health care spending for our state in the long run.
The Governor also said he wanted to restore New York to its “rightful place as the progressive capital of the nation” and that the forthcoming health benefit Exchange will help make our state’s health care system the “finest in the nation.” We know that the Exchange will help more than one million uninsured New Yorkers afford health insurance coverage. HCFANY will be working hard this year to make sure that implementation of the Exchange is as consumer-friendly as possible so that it may indeed be the finest in the nation!
HCFANY issued a short statement on the Governor’s State of the State address, which you can read by clicking here.
You can also read the Governor’s full State of the State book, which includes his prepared remarks as well as background information.
Filed under: Affordable, Governor Cuomo, Insurance Exchange, Insurance reform, New York Health Benefit Exchange, New York State Politics, Public Health, Women | Tagged: Andrew Cuomo, Implementation, Insurance Exchange, Obamacare, state of the state, women's health | Comments Off
Posted on January 9, 2013 by Arianne Slagle
A new study published in Health Affairs last week finds that young adults aged 19-25 have experienced significant gains in health insurance access since the passage of the ACA. The law, which allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26, is estimated to have increased health insurance coverage to over 3 million young adults in its first year alone.
So, this is not entirely news to us, as we have known for some time that young adults have been coming out in droves to sign up for their parents’ health insurance. But, the Health Affairs study dug a little deeper by using data from two nationally representative surveys to compare health insurance status and health care access for young adults 19-25 with those aged 26-34 between 2005 and 2011 (remember, this provision of the ACA went into effect in 2010). Researchers found that overall, the largest gains in insurance were made by unmarried adults, men, and nonstudents. It also found that the number of young adults who delayed getting health care and those who did not receive care because they couldn’t afford it has gone down significantly since the passage of the new law.
Young adults in the 19-25 age group have historically had the lowest rate of insurance coverage out of all of the age groups. However, the passage of the ACA seems to have stymied this trend by bumping up the rate of insurance coverage and access for this group so that it now more closely resembles that of other adults in older age categories.
So, in a nutshell - the ACA is working!
The article is titled “The Affordable Care Act Has Led to Significant Gains in Health Insurance And Access To Care For Young Adults” and can be found on the Health Affairs website by clicking here.
Filed under: ACA, Federal health reform, Insurance reform, Public Health, Uninsured, young adult | Tagged: ACA, Implementation, young adults | Comments Off