The gift that keeps on giving

Posted January, 5 2012 by arianne

 This morning, HCFANY members held a press conference in Albany to release two new reports that we’ve put together to highlight just how New Yorkers are being helped by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Click here to read the press release.

See, it turns out that a lot of people out there actually think that the ACA, or “Obamacare,” is something that is going to happen in the future, and something that ultimately will be determined by the Supreme Court or in the next election.  But, that’s not necessarily true.  In fact, many parts of the ACA have already taken effect and are already helping people here in New York!

To underscore this reality, HCFANY has put together a book of stories gathered from our fellow New Yorkers around the state, titled “Health Reform Works: How the Affordable Care Act is Already Making a Difference for New Yorkers.”  Take a gander at it when you get a chance – you may just see some folks you recognize in there!

The second report was put together by our friends and fellow HCFANY members, the Public Policy and Education Fund (the research arm of Citizen Action of NY).  This report summarizes the most significant benefits of the ACA for average New York consumers and small businesses.  To talk about this new report, today we have a guest blog from Bob Cohen, the report’s author.


Guest blogger –  Bob Cohen, Policy Director, Citizen Action of New York

 Polling on the Affordable Care Act (ACA) shows what first seems like a weird contradiction.  The latest Kaiser polling shows that Americans are split down the middle when you ask them whether they support the law itself.  Yet, large majororities support most of the protections of the law, including the subsidies for consumers to buy health insurance (75%), the Medicaid expansion (69%) and the creation of health insurance exchanges (79%), with even 62% of Republicans in support of an exchange).

The explanation of the contradiction might lie in another polling number: 4 in 10 are not sure how the law will affect their own families. Since many people don’t know the benefits of the ACA, they rely on the politically motivated right-wing generalizations about “big government” and “ObamaCare” for their opinions.

Well, Citizen Action has a solution!  A new report by our research and education arm (Public Policy and Education Fund) gathers the facts on the benefits of the law for consumers and small businesses.  We document both what’s already in place today, and what New Yorkers can expect in the future.  Click here to read the report.

I’d like to provide a few highlights from the report on the major benefits of the law that are already in place:

  • 2.6 million New Yorkers did not have to pay co-payments or deductibles for preventive services in 2010.
  • 4 of 5 New York small businesses are eligible for a small business tax credit to help them buy health insurance for their employees.
  • 252,300 New York seniors and people with disabilities in the Medicare “doughnut hole” received a $250 rebate check to help with their prescription drug expenses in 2010.
  • 191,000 New Yorkers under 26 are able eligible stay on their parents’ health plans.

Benefits of the Law In the Future

And the best is yet to come: many of the law’s protections are not in place today.  Here’s a sample of what we can expect in the future:

  • Up to 1.2 million uninsured New Yorkers are projected to become insured by 2014.
  • The average New York household is projected to save $1,161 annually when the law is fully implemented, with lower income households saving significantly more.

The important point for politically active folks is that in order to ensure that New Yorkers realize the full benefits of the federal law, legislation is needed to create a “health insurance exchange” in our state: a marketplace for the purchasing of health insurance at a discounted price by individuals and small businesses. The establishment of a New York exchange in 2014 will benefit individuals and small businesses by ensuring they have good health insurance choices that meet their needs and will help keep health insurance premiums more affordable.

Happily, in yesterday’s State of the State address, Governor Cuomo called for exchange legislation to be passed in the 2012 legislative session.  We need to work hard in the coming weeks to make sure that the State Senate – which didn’t act on agreed to exchange legislation in its 2011 session — gets the message.