Today, HCFANY submitted testimony on Governor Cuomo’s 2015-2016 Executive Budget to the fiscal committees of New York’s Senate and Assembly for the annual Health/Medicaid budget hearing. Overall, we were happy to see many positive proposals that would help more New Yorkers find, keep and use quality, affordable health insurance. However, we also noted several proposals that could harm New Yorkers, particularly those with lower incomes. We noted some of these when we took a first look at the budget, but below is a brief summary of all of our comments. You can also take a look at our press release to learn more.
- Funding for Community Health Advocates: The budget contains $2.5 million to support Community Health Advocates, New York’s statewide consumer assistance program, administered by Community Service Society of New York, which helps New Yorkers understand, use and keep their insurance. While we are pleased that CHA made the budget, we urged Legislators to increase the amount to $5 million: this would allow CHA to expand to more localities, increase the small business services, support the highly popular (and overburdened!) helpline, and allow the program to best serve the hundreds of thousands of newly insured through NY State of Health.
- Financing for the NY State of Health Marketplace: The budget lays out a fair, broad-based financing mechanism for the NY State of Health Marketplace. This is better for consumers, because it means that those purchasing through the Marketplace won’t be unfairly burdened with the costs of providing more affordable, quality coverage options for New Yorkers.
- Support for the Basic Health Program (BHP): The BHP was authorized in last year’s budget. The vast majority of the program will be financed by the federal government, but the budget includes the relatively small amount of money required to administer the program. The BHP will offer more affordable coverage to New Yorkers under 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level. However, some immigrants will still be excluded from the program. In our testimony, we urge the legislature to provide comprehensive coverage for all immigrants.
- Funding to help voluntary foster care agencies to transition foster care youth to managed care plans.
- Aligning Child Health Plus (New York’s children’s health insurance coverage) reimbursement rates for behavioral services with Medicaid rates, which promotes parity of these services for kids.
Additionally, our testimony lays out several concerns related to New York’s indigent care program (charity care), spousal refusal, prescriber prevails, and implementation of a value-based payment system in Medicaid (paying providers based on value, not volume).