“Most Progressive State” Budget Fails on Health Care

Posted January, 17 2019 by Amanda Dunker

The proposed executive budget is shockingly silent on health coverage:

-Health insurance for immigrants left behind by the ACA:  $0

-State premium assistance for people who can’t afford coverage:  $0

-Funding to stabilize the high costs of NY’s individual market: $0.

Instead, the people get a “commission” of so-called experts. What can a commission tell us about health coverage that we don’t already know?  Here’s what we already know:  coverage reduces mortality; coverage reduces morbidity; coverage brings people out of poverty; coverage provides economic security to people.

Coverage matters. There are plenty of giveaways in this budget for the health care industry. But no investment to provide the health coverage that would make such a difference to so many New Yorkers. State leaders in California, Colorado, New Mexico, and Washington have taken big steps on coverage.  But not here in New York, where over a million people are uninsured and millions more are struggling to afford their insurance.

New York’s advocates, including HCFANY, have developed agendas over the years that would move New York towards universal coverage. Our most progressive advocates have proposed a bold single-payer plan.  New York could take several smaller steps that would immediately ease the financial burden of accessing health care in New York: (1) state premium subsidies for people who buy their own plans and have trouble affording them; or (2) a public option for people who want a cheaper alternative to private plans.

The most heartbreaking oversight in the budget is that it does nothing to help the 400,000 New Yorkers who are uninsured because of their immigration status. Again, there are simple steps that New York could take to help. Governor Cuomo could have proposed an expansion of Child Health Plus to young adult immigrants, as Governor Newsom did. He could have been bolder and expanded the Essential Plan to all low-income adults, regardless of status. If health care is a human right, why are there so many New Yorkers whose birthplace leaves them without health coverage?

State premium assistance, a public option, immigrant coverage: all would have been progressive achievements to crow about – something that would let HCFANY agree wholeheartedly with Governor Cuomo that New York is the “most progressive big state in the nation.”

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