Today’s post comes from guest blogger Lois Uttley, of Raising Women’s Voices
“Do you know somebody who needs health insurance?”
That was the conversation starter at the Health Care for All New York booth Sunday at the annual Mamapalooza festival in South Riverside Park, along Manhattan’s Hudson River waterfront. “Yes, me!” was often the answer from the Moms (and Dads) stopping by the booth.
Raising Women’s Voices-New York staffers Lois Uttley and Aliza Lederer-Plaskett and intern Nina Nnamani teamed up with Lorraine Gonzalez of the Children’s Defense Fund-New York to staff the HCFANY booth. While the rainy weather dampened attendance, many of those present expressed surprise and excitement when HCFANY representatives explained the new health insurance options becoming available this October through the New York State Health Benefits Exchange.
“I’m a small business owner, and I just can’t afford health insurance for me and my employees,” explained one woman who wandered over from one of the booths offering products appealing to Moms and families. She was thrilled to hear about the new, more affordable health coverage that will be available to small employers when the state Exchange opens for enrollment on October 1.
HCFANY member organizations, including Raising Women’s Voices-NY, will be out and about at various community festivals this spring and summer, working to raise awareness about the new health coverage that will be available for individuals, families and small employers. Would you like Raising Women’s Voices or another HCFANY member organization to come to your event? If so, contact Liza@raisingwomensvoices.net.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org
 United States Census 2010.
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.
The federal government has published a proposed rule that would extend one popular provision of the Affordable Care Act – to allow young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until age 26 – to children of same-sex federal workers.
Up until now, same-sex partners have not been eligible for benefits under the Federal Employee Health Benefits Program (FEHBP). However, by tweaking some of the language in the definition of “step-child,” the Office of Personnel Management was able to extend this important benefit to children of same-sex partners – including the federal vision and dental programs.
Pretty cool, eh?
Click here to read the proposed rule (it’s short, only 5 pages) from the Office of Personnel Management. Comments are due by September 18.