Next week, a federal court in Texas will decide if the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and all of its protections for people with pre-existing conditions should stand. This isn’t a new activity for anyone who’s paid attention to the ACA since it passed. Opponents of the law have spent years trying to drag us backwards through court cases and repeal legislation. No matter how many times they fail they still haven’t gotten the message – the ACA makes life better for people. They don’t want to lose it!
However, there’s a big difference between this court case and the many preceding it, which is that the current Administration won’t defend the law. In fact, the Trump Administration is arguing FOR the people trying to get the ACA thrown out. That’s not normally how this works – the Executive Branch’s role is to execute and defend the law. Challengers are allowed to make their case against it, and the courts decide whose arguments are better. When we get a new Administration that wants to change the law, they can try to convince Congress to repeal it or pass a new law.
If the court agrees with the challengers next week, it would have a terrible effect on people’s ability to afford health care. A lot of legal scholars think this particular lawsuit is frivolous. They don’t believe the challengers’ arguments against the ACA will stand up in court, even with the government joining their efforts. They’re more worried that this signals a change in the role of the Executive Branch.
HCFANY is joining other organizations around the state to send letters to New York’s Congressional delegation saying enough is enough. The ACA is helping millions of New Yorkers, and there’s still plenty more work we could do to make health care more accessible. We have to stop wasting time on sabotaging a law that is working pretty well and instead work on improving it wherever we can.
If you’d like to add your name to the letters, you can click on the link to your District below. If you aren’t sure which is yours, type in your zip code at this link. The letters will be delivered on September 5.
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On Friday, June 22, more than 70 HCFANY members from across the state gathered in Albany for our annual spring to learn about the Coalition’s ongoing and upcoming work to strengthen and expand health coverage all for New Yorkers and promote health equity. As you all know, it has been a very challenging year for health care, and we are very grateful to all who attended and engaged with us!
The agenda included an Advocates’ Panel during which we heard updates on HCFANY work on New York’s indigent care pool and safety net hospitals and the Coverage 4 All Campaign for immigrant coverage. We also discussed strategies for improving market stabilization and affordability in the individual market. Slides from the presentation are available here.
We were also honored to present our annual “Consumer Health Champion” Award to the grassroots groups, the “New York Grassroots Defenders of Health Care” who have been so instrumental in the fight to defend the ACA and Medicaid here in New York. Awardees included: ACR Health, “Faso Friday,” Long Island Save Our Health Care Alliance, NY-11 for Health Care, Rochester ADAPT, and Saratoga Progressive Action.
The meeting concluded with discussion and planning groups on federal advocacy, protecting New York State’s individual market, and preserving and expanding immigrant coverage.
Albany, NY – Health Care for All New York (HCFANY), a statewide coalition of over 170 consumer advocacy organizations, encourages consumers and consumer advocates to weigh in on health insurance rate proposals for 2019. On June 1, the Department of Financial Services (DFS) posted a summary of the carriers’ rate proposals. The insurance carriers claim that about half of the average requested increase of 24 percent is attributable to the recent repeal of the individual mandate.
Consumers should remember that many people receive premium assistance through Advanced Premium Tax Credits (APTCs), which limits the impact premium increases will have on some beneficiaries. Consumers should also remember that these rate increases apply only to individual and small market plans purchased through the New York State of Health – people with the Essential Plan or Medicaid are not affected. Finally, consumers should remember that the rate requests are in fact requests, and the amounts could change if DFS does not approve them.
In this area of failure of federal action, HCFANY is calling on New York State to investigate policy options to stabilize the individual insurance market for New York’s consumers, for example, establishing a state individual mandate or increasing premium assistance.
HCFANY also urges consumers to regularly check the DFS website. There is a 30-day comment period from the date of posting for each carrier rate. HCFANY has released a rate review guide for consumers and posted templates, but encourages consumers to tell DFS how premiums affect themselves, their families, or their businesses in their own words. DFS will then review the carriers’ requests and the public’s comments to make their final rate decisions, typically late in the summer or early fall.
Earlier this month, the NY State of Health (NYSOH), New York’s official health plan Marketplace, released its 2018 Open Enrollment Report. As of January 31, 2018 more than 4.3 million New Yorkers enrolled in coverage through NYSOH. This represents an increase of nearly 700,000 people compared to last year’s open enrollment.
According to the report, more than 259,000 people enrolled in Qualified Health Plans (QHPs), and nearly 60 percent qualified for federal subsidies to make monthly premiums more affordable. In 2018, monthly premiums for individuals remained 50 percent lower on average than before the establishment of the Marketplace, and most New Yorkers purchasing QHPs had at least four insurers to choose from.
The report also highlights the continued success of the Essential Plan (EP), New York’s Basic Health Program, which now has more than 738,000 people enrolled – an 11 percent increase since the end of January 2017. Ninety-two percent of individuals determined eligible for EP ultimately enrolled in coverage, and enrolling in EP saved consumers an average of $1100 per year compared to a higher cost QHP.
There are also more than 2.9 million New Yorkers enrolled in Medicaid through the Marketplace and nearly 375,000 enrolled in Child Health Plus.
Finally, the report emphasizes the important role in-person assistors continue to play in enrolling New Yorkers in health insurance coverage. In 2018, 77 percent of New Yorkers who enrolled in coverage through NYSOH did so with the help of an in-person assistor, including Navigators, certified application counselors, and insurance brokers. New Yorkers who enrolled in Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and Essential Plan coverage were more likely to do so with in-person assistance.
New York’s commitment to strong health insurance programs and consumer assistance have helped the State reach a historic low of 4.9 percent uninsured.
Open enrollment for 2018 has ended, but New Yorkers eligible for Medicaid, Child Health Plus, or Essential Plan coverage can enroll at any time through the NYSOH website. New Yorkers who experience a qualifying life event may also be eligible for a special enrollment period to enroll in a QHP. If you need help enrolling, Navigators are available to provide in-person assistance. Please visit online or call (888) 614-5400 to find a Navigator in your area.