Posted June 5, 2017 by Amanda Dunker

Albany, NY – Health Care for All New York (HCFANY), a statewide coalition of over 170 consumer advocacy organizations, commends Governor Cuomo on his decision to issue emergency regulations to protect comprehensive, affordable coverage for all New Yorkers regardless of their gender, age, or previous health issues. The regulations would limit the harm New Yorkers would experience if the federal government repeals the Affordable Care Act (ACA) or weakens the ACA’s consumer protections through other federal actions.

Under the Governor’s proposal, insurers who choose to withdraw from our individual and small group markets would become ineligible for any state contract, including contracts for carrying out other programs like Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan. Insurers would have to cover the ten Essential Health Benefits, something that Congress is seeking to make optional, in order to keep their New York license. The Essential Health Benefits include maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs, and mental health treatment. Another new rule would require insurers to cover contraception and medically necessary abortions without cost-sharing for most plans.

“Governor Cuomo’s action today sends a strong message that he is choosing to stand up for consumers to ensure that New York’s insurance markets are healthy and stable for all New Yorkers,” says Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society of New York.

“Because of Governor’s Cuomo’s action, millions of New York’s women and LGBTQ people will be protected from health insurance discrimination and loss of key coverage benefits, such as maternity care, contraception and abortion,” said Lois Uttley, Director of Raising Women’s Voices-NY.

Joe Baker, President of the Medicare Rights Center, said “We applaud Governor Cuomo and the State Department of Health for proposing these new regulations that ensure older New Yorkers can maintain affordable health insurance coverage without fear of price discrimination based on their age or pre-existing conditions. These regulations provide New Yorkers not yet eligible for Medicare with the peace of mind that they will not be required to pay up to five times more for their health coverage solely because of their age.”

“We have been working with consumers who need help understanding their insurance and accessing care since 2010 and have seen that people rely on the Essential Health Benefits as a baseline of care,” said Diane Spicer, Supervising Attorney at the Community Health Advocates program. “We’ve been getting calls from worried consumers for months – now we can give them more certainty that the plans they spend their hard-earned money on will cover their true health care needs.”

“These regulations protect consumers in the individual and small group market, where the majority of performing artists and entertainment professionals find themselves,” said Renata Marinaro, Director of Health Services at The Actors Fund. “We thank Governor Cuomo for supporting this vibrant industry and making sure it continues to stay insured and healthy.”

“Maintaining consumer protections is critical for immigrant New Yorkers who are eligible for coverage,” said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “We look forward to working with the Governor to cover the 433,000 New York State residents who remain excluded from coverage because of their immigration status.”

Ben Anderson, Health Policy Director at the Children’s Defense Fund – New York (CDF-NY), said “CDF-NY thanks Governor Cuomo for taking this bold step to protect New Yorkers in the face of grave threats to their health coverage. While these protections will benefit all of New York’s children in some way, they especially help the kids covered by an individual or small business plan purchased through our ACA marketplace. Those children are now assured they will get the newborn care, preventive services, and other pediatric care they need to grow, stay healthy, and thrive. CDF-NY is eager to continue working with the Governor and other elected officials to avoid the proposed federal cuts to Medicaid and the Children’s Health Insurance Program, which threaten the coverage of another 2.4 million of New York’s children.”