For New Yorkers With Disabilities, Medicaid Expansion Would “Be A Godsend”

Posted April, 12 2023 by Amanda Dunker

Nancy Rodriguez, a 66-year-old Queens resident, struggles with a number of life-altering cardiopulmonary medical conditions. She works at a doctor’s office despite her disability, to supplement her modest Social Security benefits.

Nancy’s total income is about $30,000 a year, including Social Security — too much to qualify for ordinary Medicaid. Since 2017, she has used the Medicaid Buy-in Program for New Yorkers with Disabilities (MBI-WPD) to cover her medications, multiple specialist visits, and hospitalizations.

Still, Nancy has spent years mired in medical debt. In 2020, her medical bills totaled $500,000, including a 13-day hospitalization for COVID. In 2022 she owed $300,000 for a couple of hospitalizations and a surgery.

“For me to be without health insurance is not acceptable, not even for five minutes.” 

Under current law, the MBI-WPD program is limited by income, assets, and age. In her FY2024 Executive Budget, Governor Hochul has proposed expanding the program, so that more New Yorkers with disabilities can work and still qualify for Medicaid coverage.

The Governor has proposed removing the age limit of 65, which Nancy says, “would be a godsend for me.” She does have Medicare, but she does not know how she would manage a Medicare Part B premium, a supplemental “Medigap,” and a drug plan which she figures could amount to $300 per month.  “I don’t have that kind of money and I work as many hours as I can. It’s very frightening. I lose a lot of sleep over this.“

We look forward to the passage of New York State’s budget including the expansion of Medicaid Buy-in coverage so that people like Nancy will not have to lose sleep over medical bills and can continue to work. Nancy says, “I am very fortunate that I am able to work and I will continue to work as long as I can do it.” 

Let’s keep Nancy working and with critical health coverage.