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Post-Election Update: Immigrant Health Access and Coverage in New York State


Immigrant health advocates nationwide are watching with concern as the Trump administration prepares its health agenda. At the NYIC, we are closely monitoring what potential federal changes could mean for health coverage for immigrants in New York State. Secretary of Health and Human Services nominee Tom Price, other Republican legislators, and the President-elect have vowed to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA), end Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), and convert Medicaid into block grants. All of these outcomes would have dramatic effects on immigrant health access in New York State.  

President-elect Trump’s stated intention to deport 3 million immigrants has created an environment of instability, fear and polarization that threaten the health and well-being of immigrant families and communities.  In New York and nationwide, we’ve seen an uptick in harassment and hate crimes. These crimes have potentially grave and lasting physical and mental health consequences for the communities we serve.  Making sure that immigrants feel safe and secure in New York State is a key part of the NYIC’s organization-wide response to the rhetoric and threats of the incoming administration.

While Republicans have communicated plans to take immediate steps to overturn the ACA, Democrats have vowed to fight efforts to dismantle the law.  Republicans do not have a filibuster-proof majority that would allow them to overturn the entire law. However, budget-related portions of the law such as premium assistance, cost-sharing reductions, New York State’s Essential Plan, and Medicaid expansion could be repealed through budget reconciliation, which requires only a simple majority of 51 votes (Republicans will hold 52 seats in the new Senate).  An Urban Institute report released this week estimates that as many at 1.7 million New Yorkers could lose health insurance from ACA rollback, including loss of New York State’s Essential Plan.

Despite the challenges to come, the NYIC Health Advocacy program reminds everyone that the ACA is the law of the land until it is repealed. We are currently in the middle of 2017 Open Enrollment, which offers a critical opportunity for individuals to enroll in or renew coverage. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has indicated that people who enroll in plans for the upcoming year will be covered until the end of 2017. Guidance from U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement protecting information submitted as part of insurance enrollment remains in place.  

For more information on the safety and security of health insurance for immigrants, see this FAQ from our partners at the National Immigration Law Center.  To enroll in coverage, reach out to the New York State of Health at 855-355-5777 to find a navigator who can discuss health coverage options with you.  Regardless of your immigration status or what happens over the course of 2017, it’s important to remember that New York State has a range of public hospitals and federally-qualified health centers that provide discounted services for everyone, regardless of immigration status or insurance coverage.  Supporting those institutions through advocacy will continue to be an important part of the health program’s work, along with our tireless fight to protect and expand meaningful coverage for all immigrant New Yorkers.


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