It’s the first day of spring! That means daffodils and birds chirping, right? Well, maybe not here in New York as the snow drifts down. But one thing it certainly means is that the New York State Legislature is nearing the end of its budget negotiations. One critical health program hanging in the balance is Community Health Advocates (CHA), the statewide consumer assistance program that helps consumers with all types of health insurance and the uninsured access services and understand their coverage.
Since 2010 CHA’s live helpline and statewide network of community-based organizations has helped over 200,000 New Yorkers and saved over $14 million for consumers. But without state funding, CHA will close its doors on July 1, 2015. Thankfully, so far each chamber has proposed funding for the CHA program, with both the Executive and Senate proposing $2.5 million, and the Assembly proposing a total of $3 million. But negotiations aren’t over yet, and nothing’s final until it’s final!
HCFANY and other consumer groups have echoed support for the proposed funding, while calling for a total of $5 million to fund the program. These additional funds would support CHA in more localities that are currently underserved, restore its small business services, and allow the program to meet increasing demand from the over 2.1 million New Yorkers who are newly insured through NY State of Health.