Eight in Ten New Yorkers Support Health Coverage for All New Yorkers 

With the deadline for the New York State budget fast approaching, Coverage for All legislation (Rivera S2237|Gonzalez-Rojas A3020) is on the short list of items under consideration. The State Senate and Assembly have included the measure to expand health insurance to all New York immigrants in their one-house budgets—a crucial step closer towards true health equity in the state. 

In this critical moment, the Coverage for All coalition is again sharing the most thorough recent poll on the subject while urging Governor Hochul to follow the legislature’s lead. The poll, released by the Community Service Society (CSS) last year, shows that 8 in 10 New Yorkers agree that someone’s background – including gender, sex, language, and immigration status – should not make it harder to get quality healthcare, including  88 percent of Long Islanders. This was true for the majority of people regardless of party affiliation or geography.

Coverage for All is not only popular with the public, but supported by a broad and diverse coalition, including The Business Council, Greater New York Hospital Association, New York Health Plan Association, New York State Nurses Association, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East, Committee of Interns and Residents, City of New York, Mary Bassett (former Commissioner of the New York State Department of Health and New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene), the New York State Health Foundation, Make the Road New York, The Community Service Society, New York Lawyer for the Public Interest, among others.

Last year, Governor Hochul promised to include undocumented immigrants in the state’s 1332 waiver application, yet she ultimately did not do so. Since then, advocates, elected officials, health care providers, and community members have raised the alarm and called on her to follow through on her promise. 

In February, the New York State of Health opened the public comment period for an Affordable Care Act (ACA) Section 1332 State Innovation Waiver application to expand the Essential Plan to New Yorkers with incomes up to 250 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. 

During that thirty-day comment period, New Yorkers submitted more than 1,500 comments asking the state to amend its 1332 waiver request to include all low-income immigrants, regardless of immigration status. A broad coalition of major healthcare stakeholders (see above) also submitted comments encouraging the state to include immigrants in the 1332 waiver. 

Becca Telzak, Deputy Director at Make the Road New York, said, “New Yorkers across regions and backgrounds know that everyone in our state deserves health care coverage—regardless of immigration status. Coverage for All enjoys broad support because it is a critical measure to make this a reality in our state. We urge Governor Hochul to follow the legislature’s lead and ensure that in this state budget we prioritize the health of all.”

Elisabeth Benjamin, CSS Vice President of Health Initiatives, said, “New York should be a leader on progressive health care initiatives, and providing health coverage is popular with New Yorkers of all backgrounds. We urge Governor Hochul to honor her prior commitment to extend health coverage to immigrants and make health equity a reality in New York.” 

The state’s Essential Plan Trust Fund Account has an existing $9 billion surplus and is estimated to generate an additional $2 billion annual surplus. Including undocumented immigrants in the 1332 waiver application would enable the state to use part of the $2 billion annual surplus in federal funding to pay for expanded coverage for immigrants, and would cover an estimated 255,000 uninsured people. Expanding immigrant coverage using the waiver would also save New York as much as $500 million, which it currently spends providing bare bones Emergency Medicaid coverage to immigrants. 

The Covering for All legislation would also provide a major boost to our economy, with more than $700 million in benefits in New York City alone from increased life expectancy, productivity gains, personal financial stability, and health care systems savings from reduced emergency room visits.

The new 2018 census data numbers are out this this morning. 

The bad news is that uninsurance numbers increased across the country by 1.9 million in 2018, despite the positive economy. This was the first increase in uninsured since the Affordable Care Act was fully implemented in 2014. Here’s a New York Times article with more details.

BUT, there’s great news in New York, which was one of just three states in the country to have a decline in our uninsurance numbers, from 1,113,000 in 2017 to 1,041,000 in 2018 (our uninsurance rate declined from 5.7% to 5.4%). 

New York’s continued decline in uninsured residents is inextricably linked to its adoption of the high quality, affordable, Essential Plan, which saw an increase in enrollment from 665,000 in 2017 to 739,000 in 2018.  Other important factors include:

  • One-stop shopping: you can apply for the full spectrum of coverage, including Medicaid, Emergency Medicaid, Child Health Plus, the Essential Plan, Qualified Health Plans and tax credits, all through the same NY State of Health application
  • Robust Navigator funding of $27 million a year

Congratulations New Yorkers! And let’s keep up the good work!

In a recent blog post, we explained how New Yorkers can comment on the rates their insurers have requested for 2019. You can read that blog post here. The deadline for submitting comments is Sunday, July 1 so there isn’t very much time left.

Comments can be submitted electronically here. And you can find our letters for each individual carrier below. HCFANY submits very detailed comments – yours do not have to include the technical analysis you see in our letters. It’s important for consumers to speak frankly about how premium increases affect their households. Maybe you have to decide between health insurance and other necessities. Maybe you are considering not buying insurance. Maybe your insurer keeps giving you fewer choices of doctors even as you keep paying more. All of these issues need to be discussed publicly in New York.

This year HCFANY  asked the Department of Financial Services (DFS), which is responsible for regulating insurance and reviewing the rate applications, to help convene a workgroup to talk about strategies the state can use to control premiums. The rate review process allows DFS to reduce premium requests every year, but more needs to be done.

Comments on all 12 of the carriers who applied for the individual market are below:




On Friday, June 22, more than 70 HCFANY members from across the state gathered in Albany for our annual spring to learn about the Coalition’s ongoing and upcoming work to strengthen and expand health coverage all for New Yorkers and promote health equity. As you all know, it has been a very challenging year for health care, and we are very grateful to all who attended and engaged with us!

The agenda included an Advocates’ Panel during which we heard updates on HCFANY work on New York’s indigent care pool and safety net hospitals and the Coverage 4 All Campaign for immigrant coverage. We also discussed strategies for improving market stabilization and affordability in the individual market. Slides from the presentation are available here.

We were also honored to present our annual “Consumer Health Champion” Award to the grassroots groups, the “New York Grassroots Defenders of Health Care” who have been so instrumental in the fight to defend the ACA and Medicaid here in New York. Awardees included: ACR Health, “Faso Friday,” Long Island Save Our Health Care Alliance, NY-11 for Health Care, Rochester ADAPT, and Saratoga Progressive Action.

The meeting concluded with discussion and planning groups on federal advocacy, protecting New York State’s individual market, and preserving and expanding immigrant coverage.