HCFANY Notches Important Legislative Victories—and Two Major Defeats—in this Year’s Budget Deal.

Posted April, 22 2024 by admin

Health Care for All New York is delighted that the new budget deal includes key HCFANY legislative agenda items, including: the reform of our State’s broken Hospital Financial Assistance Law (HFAL); the elimination of cost-sharing for insulin; a program to provide enhanced subsidies to help offset the costs or premiums of cost-sharing in the Marketplace; and continuous coverage for children up to age six in our State’s public health insurance programs. But HCFANY is hugely disappointed to see that Coverage4All was not included in the final deal. And in a break with the Assembly’s historic support for Community Health Advocates, it maintained over a 50 percent cut to its allocation ($1 million in 2023 decreased to $469,000 in 2025). 

The Budget deal reforming our state’s broken HFAL will provide enormous relief to New Yorkers. Over the past 7 years, New York’s “charitable” hospitals have sued over 80,000 patients contributing to the grim statistic that 760,000 people have medical debt. The ubiquity of these lawsuits will now be significantly curtailed. The new law outright bans lawsuits against patients with incomes below 400% of the federal poverty level (FPL), which is about $60,000 for an individual. It also requires hospitals to provide free care to patients with incomes up to 200% of FPL ($30,000 for an individual), and heavily discounted care between 10-20% of the Medicaid rate – for patients up to 400% of FPL. Further, hospital payment plans cannot charge more than 5% of a patient’s gross family income in a year. And it eliminates burdensome “asset” test rules that became a cover for bureaucratic applications where patients have to prove the negative: that they are not secretly stashing their wealth in an effort to get help paying for healthcare. Finally, hospitals will be barred from including “immigration” eligibility tests for financial assistance.

Another positive aspect of the budget for healthcare consumers is the inclusion of a law that eliminates cost-sharing for insulin for enrollees in state-regulated health insurance plans. More than 1.5 million New Yorkers have diabetes, of which about 500,000 people rely on insulin. This provision will help many diabetics, but especially people of color, seniors, and people who live in low-income households, who disproportionately suffer from diabetes complications, including kidney failure, blindness, and loss of limbs.

Two key coverage provisions were also included in the final budget. First, New York will join the states of Oregon and Washington to guarantee continuous public insurance (Medicaid and Child Health Plus) coverage of children up to the age of six. This provision will help families avoid costly gaps in health coverage.  Second, the budget includes authorization to improve cost-sharing or premium assistance programs for people enrolling through the Marketplace. Few details are out, but HCFANY will post about these measures as they are finalized.  

While the Budget news is mostly good, HCFANY is hugely disappointed that the Assembly Leadership has broken with its storied tradition of standing up for healthcare consumers in two important areas. First, the Budget deal failed to include Coverage4All, a foregone conclusion by the Assembly’s omission in its one-house budget bill. Second, the Assembly continued to maintain over a 50% cut in its share of funding for the Community Health Advocates program which serves over 35,000 consumers a year, saving them $36 million in health care costs. 

Our work is not done!  For the remainder of the session, which ends on June 6, HCFANY will focus on trying to secure the passage of the stand-alone Coverage4All bill (S2237B|A3020), which would authorize the Governor to amend the 1332 Waiver to secure funding for covering up to 150,000 immigrant New Yorkers, as well as the “Stop SUNY Suing” Act (A8170|S7778), which would prevent the five state-operated hospitals from suing their patients with medical debt. 

One Pager: New York’s Reformed HFAL