Advocates, Policy Experts Push Albany to Act on Health Exchange in the Budget
With Exchange, 1 Million New Yorkers Would Reap the Rewards of Health Care Reform
Albany, NY - On Wednesday, March 14th, members of the Health Care For All New York (HCFANY) coalition gathered outside the New York State Senate lobby to urge the Legislature and the Governor to enact a health insurance Exchange in the final budget. While the Assembly and Governor Cuomo included language creating the Exchange in their proposals, the Senate has failed to act and has opted to delay the process by introducing legislation to “study” the issue.
“We can no longer afford to kick the can down the road and play political games with the health of New Yorkers. Albany’s “Three Men in the Room” need to come together so the final budget creates an Exchange that will enable over a million uninsured New Yorkers to gain coverage and will make health insurance more affordable for individuals, families and small businesses alike. No more delays – it’s time to allow New Yorkers to get the quality, affordable health care they deserve,” said Jess Wisneski, Legislative and Campaigns Director of Citizen Action of New York and a co-founder of Health Care for All New York.
“New York’s working families and small businesses urgently need the enactment of Exchange Legislation,” said Elisabeth R. Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives at the Community Service Society of NY and a co-founder of Health Care for All New York. “An Exchange will offer millions of uninsured New Yorkers coverage that is discounted for individuals by as much as 66% and discounted for small businesses by as much as 22%. Failure to enact now will forfeit New York’s chance to customize an Exchange to our State’s economic needs – instead, our families and small business will have to enroll through a one-size-fits all federal Exchange.”
“About 10 percent of all cancer patients don’t have health insurance when they receive their diagnosis,” said Sherry Tomasky, Advocacy Director, American Cancer Society of NY & NJ. “For those patients, a health insurance Exchange will provide a channel for them to get the coverage they need to properly treat and survive cancer. New York is running out of time to establish a state-run exchange and risk federal operation if we don’t act now. New York needs an Exchange to best serve the individuals, families and small businesses of New York.”
“While health care reform is the impetus for building an Exchange in New York State, the benefits of streamlining access to health insurance stand on their own merit. Passage of this important legislation will provide access to health insurance for the many people in New York who are uninsured, save money for individuals, and cut costs for small businesses,” said Family Planning Advocates President and CEO, M. Tracey Brooks. ”Accessing all of the federal money available will ensure New York can update and streamline its antiquated public enrollment process. Passing the Exchange in the state budget would be a win for New Yorkers, a win for small businesses and a win for state government.”
“The Affordable Care Act envisions a partnership between the federal government and the states to move toward health care for all. New York creating a new health insurance exchange now is a vital step in that process,” said Mark Hannay, Director of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign. “If New York is smart and strategic about how it does it and gets it done in this year’s state budget, we’ll be well positioned to take advantage of further opportunities for states in the future.”
“A New York Health Exchange will help New York women and families get the health care they want and need. As health care decision makers and frequent caregivers for our families, women understand how important it is to have health insurance that covers our medical needs while fitting our family budgets,” said Maryanne Tomazic of Raising Women’s Voices – New York.
“The deadline for New York to establish a health Exchange is almost here. If the Senate doesn’t act now, New Yorkers with disabilities and serious illnesses are especially at risk for ending up with a federal Exchange that doesn’t meet their health needs. There’s no time left,” said Heidi Siegfried, Project Director of New Yorkers for Accessible Coverage.
“It’s more important than ever to help working families to afford health insurance. New York has a choice to make. We can set up the structure for the thoughtful, public planning needed to make sure that health insurance works – is affordable and understandable – or look the other way while costs rise, employer-sponsored coverage declines, and the number of uninsured grows,” said Kate Breslin, President and CEO of the Schuyler Center for Analysis and Advocacy.
“A recent AARP survey of New Yorkers ages 30-64 finds that voters in this age group strongly support the governor’s executive budget proposal to establish a Health Benefit Exchange,” said Joan Parrott Fonseca, AARP New York State Director. “It is imperative that the state Senate moves forward to ensure that New Yorkers have access to affordable health care coverage.”
“Passing Exchange legislation in the state of New York will ensure that the 200,000 children who remain without health insurance will finally have access to quality and affordable health care, ensuring that they have the necessary health benefits to grow up into healthy adults,” said Erin Hoben of the Children’s Defense Fund – New York.
“The state needs to include the insurance Exchange as part of the final budget,” said Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “We need to ensure the Exchange is implemented so that access to affordable care is maximized and immigrants left out of federal reforms don’t fall through the cracks at the state level. New York has a history of being inclusive and must uphold that heritage now.”