Just a few weeks ago – though it seems much longer in this busy time of year – 100 HCFANY members and supporters gathered in Albany to learn about our Coalition’s 2014 legislative priorities and plan our collective advocacy efforts. For those who missed it or need a refresher, here are some highlights of what we saw and heard at this year’s HCFANY annual meeting:
Jess Wisneski, chair of the HCFANY steering committee, kicked off the day by presenting a call to action for HCFANY members to advocate for even better, more affordable coverage this year, to build on the initial success of ACA implementation in our state – nearly 300,000 enrolled by the end of the year! The State’s most recent count is 380,000 enrolled and over 650,000 applications completed.
Next up, we heard from a panel about how outreach and enrollment is going on the ground:
- Debra Pucci, Director of the Healthcare Education Project (HEP), described their efforts to reach thousands of New Yorkers with information about enrollment (HEP is a project of 1199 SEIU United Healthcare Workers East and the Greater New York Hospital Association).
- Nora Chavez, Director of Community Health Advocates (CHA) with the Community Service Society of New York, reported on the efforts of the CSS’s statewide Navigator Network – call volume to CSS’s toll-free number grew from 100 to over 600 calls per week in the last three months.
- Maryanne Tomazic, field coordinator for Raising Women’s Voices – NY, talked about Get Covered New York’s outreach efforts, including over 160 tabling and other events! Volunteer Adora Campis shared her own enrollment story, which you can read about here (link to post).
HCFANY steering committee member Kate Breslin of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy presented the 2014 Health Consumer Champion award to Donna Frescatore, Director of NY State of Health, in recognition of her extraordinary efforts to get New Yorkers covered in this new age of marketplace coverage.
After a quick lunch break, we launched back in with another panel presentation, this time introducing HCFANY’s three policy priorities for the 2014 Legislative Session, which you can read all about in our policy briefs by following the links:
- Implement a Basic Health Program to ensure affordable coverage for low- to moderate-income New Yorkers
- Make Coverage Work for All New Yorkers, including protecting consumers from surprise bills, making coverage more affordable for individuals by merging the individual and small group marketplaces, prohibiting insurance plans from excluding services needed by transgender people, and other important issues.
- Ensure a Consumer-Friendly Marketplace, accessible to all New Yorkers, that includes high quality coverage with out-of-network benefits, and robust consumer assistance for enrollment and post-enrollment help.
Finally, we moved into action, breaking into four discussion groups to talk about how to reach our advocacy goals for this session:
Consumer-friendly Marketplace: Many members of this group had on-the-ground experiences to share from their work as Navigators, enrolling New Yorkers in the new coverage options. In addition to our legislative goals, HCFANY members are committed to advocating for administrative fixes that will improve consumer experience with the marketplace.
Making Coverage Work: A critical point of discussion was the need to prevent insurance plans from the discriminatory practice of denying services for transgender people that are covered for other beneficiaries. HCFANY and our LGBT Task Force are asking the state to issue a bulletin or other guidance to insurance plans that prohibits such discrimination against transgender people. To do that, we need stories of transgender New Yorkers who have experienced discrimination by their plans. To support other coverage priorities, the group also highlighted the need for stories of New Yorkers who have been hit with “surprise” out-of-network bills (link to post) and of New Yorkers with disabilities who have a more challenging enrollment process because they are not currently able to enroll directly in Medicaid through the Marketplace.
Basic Health Program: BHP work group members brainstormed various community sources for stories from those who would be eligible for and would benefit from a BHP. Locations included restaurant owners and staff, salons, young adult training programs and free income tax preparation programs. The group also discussed setting up regional meetings with key targets in the legislature.
Outreach and Enrollment: Members in the Outreach and Enrollment group discussed the need for more education about the ACA. Many people in our communities are still unaware of the NY State of Health. Members discussed using each other’s networks to amplify local events, and looking to allies for help hosting events in hard to reach communities. While it is important to emphasize the March 31st deadline, afterwards we will all still need to make the push to enroll small businesses, those eligible for Medicaid, and those who experience qualifying life events. Success stories are very important to promote enrollment, but the best promotion comes from word of mouth or local news sources.
And, that was a wrap! Thanks to all who came and shared your perspective, wisdom, and energy – and, who continue to carry forward HCFANY’s advocacy work on the ground.
Fast forward, and we’re a few days into February, with New York’s legislative session in full swing. A webinar about our legislative agenda and our annual lobby day are to come, so stay tuned!