HCFANY worked hard to further a series of important priorities during this year’s budget and legislative session. Read below for a review of what consumers won this legislative session and what remains a priority on the HCFANY policy agenda.
Over 54,000 New Yorkers were sued by hospitals between 2015 and 2020, and nearly 1.2 million have past due medical debt on their credit reports. Health care prices in New York are some of the highest in the country.
HCFANY applauds the Hochul Administration for requiring that the State Department of Health adopt a uniform application for Hospital Financial Assistance in the budget and commends the legislature for their support of this initiative. The Ounce of Prevention Act, which included the uniform application for Hospital Financial Assistance, had several other important components that did not pass this session. HCFANY will continue to fight for policy that would align hospital financial assistance eligibility with other health care programs offered in New York; increase and clarify patient discounts; eliminate the obsolete asset test that is only applied to poor patients; extend the time to apply for hospital financial assistance to any time during the collection process; and require all providers who practice in a hospital to abide by the hospital’s financial assistance policy.
In another win for consumers, the Department of Health will adopt a Health Insurance Guaranty Fund and a prescription drug price transparency database. HCFANY thanks state policymakers for agreeing to expand the Medicaid program for working people with disabilities.
In the last few days of the legislative session, state lawmakers passed the Fair Medical Debt Reporting Act (S4907/A6275). When signed by the Governor, the legislation will prohibit medical debt from being collected by a consumer reporting agency or included in a consumer report. HCFANY and EMD campaign will follow up with the Hochul Administration to urge the Governor to sign the bill into law.
To learn more about the campaign to #EndMedicalDebt and take action, visit cssny.org/EndMedicalDebt. Burdened by large medical bills? Submit your story to wethepatientsny.org.
HCFANY is profoundly disappointed that the Hochul Administration’s 1332 Waiver document and state budget language exclude immigrants, backtracking on her promise last Spring. If immigrants had been included, it would have cost the state nothing, and in fact saved New York taxpayers nearly $500 million in bare bones Emergency Medicaid coverage for immigrants.
HCFANY will continue to fight for passage of legislation that serves the needs of New Yorkers who lack health care coverage because of their immigration status. Read more about Coverage4All.
State lawmakers included $3 million in the budget for the Community Health Access to Addiction and Mental Healthcare Project (CHAMP) as well as established an Ombudsman Program for People with Developmental Disabilities. These consumer assistance programs are essential to help New Yorkers navigate the health care system.
However, the wildly successful Community Health Advocates (CHA) program will experience an 9% budget cut due to the Assembly’s reduction in funding. Last year, CHA helped more than 32,000 New Yorkers use their health insurance, saving them nearly $32 million in healthcare related costs. This cut comes right when the 9 million New Yorkers will need to renew their coverage for the first time due to changed rules under the termination of the federal Public Health Emergency.