Courtney Burke (right), Deputy Secretary for Health for New York State accepts HCFANY’s 2015 Health Consumer Champion Award from Kate Breslin (left), President and CEO of Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.
Guest Post: Bob Cohen, Policy Director, Citizen Action of New York
Close to 100 health care advocates, coming from every corner of the state (Long Island, New York City, the Hudson Valley, the Capital District, the North Country, the Southern Tier and Central New York), braved the wintry weather on January 9th for HCFANY’s 2015 annual meeting in Albany.
In the opening panel, three HCFANY Steering Committee members set the stage by reviewing recent HCFANY successes of the past year and the challenges we face, particularly on the federal level. The panelists reviewed HCFANY’s role in promoting the state’s recent health coverage expansions, including the enrollment of over 1 million New Yorkers in the NY State of Health Marketplace during its first year and the creation of a Basic Health Program to offer more affordable coverage to lower-income working New Yorkers (see attached presentation notes). But key challenges lie ahead, including potential attempts by Congress to undermine the Affordable Care Act. Advocates need to be vigilant to ensure that Congress does not chip away at the law with, for example, cuts to subsidies to buy health coverage. Another key issue to watch in 2015 is the September expiration of funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (Child Health Plus in New York), which could endanger the coverage of hundreds of thousands of New York children.
A second panel on HCFANY’s policy agenda for 2015 outlined next steps for ensuring quality, affordable coverage in the state, including covering all immigrants, maintaining a strong, statewide consumer assistance program, and ensuring that consumers purchasing plans through NY State of Health have access to out-of-network coverage.
And attendees heard an important briefing on the state’s recent moves towards payment and delivery systems reform. Panelists emphasized that as New York moves rapidly forward on these initiatives, consumer advocates have to weigh in to ensure that consumers are protected and see the benefits of the restructuring. Presentations are available here, here and here.
Finally, attendees had the chance to put lessons into action, by developing action plans for HCFANY’s policy agenda. Please watch this space to see how HCFANY’s work unfolds during this year’s legislative session!