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Report Analyzes the Potential Impact of New York State Coverage Expansion Proposals

Report Analyzes the Potential Impact of New York State Coverage Expansion Proposals

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Contact: Jenny Rejeske, 212.627.2227 x223; Mark Scherzer, Esq., 212.406.9606; Margi Trapani, 646-442-4154

Embargoed until February 25, 2009

MORE ATTENTION NEEDED TO INTEGRATION OF IMMIGRANTS IN LEADING HEALTH REFORM PROPOSALS: New York State Health Foundation-supported report issued today studies the impact of proposed health coverage reform on millions of New Yorkers who are immigrants.

As New York State struggles to expand health care coverage during these tough economic times, there is a risk that the 2 million New Yorkers who are non-citizen immigrants—including green card holders and unauthorized workers with serious illnesses and disabilities—will be left behind when strategies for coverage are implemented. Yet, study co-author, Mark Scherzer, notes that “If New York is to achieve universal or near universal coverage, substantially increased health insurance coverage rates among immigrants will be the key.” Immigrants account for one-quarter of New York State’s uninsured population. One in four New York State residents – 4.3 million – are immigrants, including naturalized citizens, lawful permanent residents, refugees, and workers who lack legal status.

Today, New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage (NYFAHC) and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) release an analysis of the nine leading proposals for health reform on the potential impact on immigrants. The study is part of a broad analysis of how health coverage among immigrants can be increased, funded by a grant from the New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth). According to the report, Analysis of New York State Coverage Expansion Proposals: Potential Impact on Immigrants, key findings reported include:

· Most health reform plans implicitly include immigrants but only one—the Community Service Society “Cornerstone for Coverage”— explicitly addresses changing eligibility rules which are necessary to open enrollment to immigrants.
· Only one plan—Manhattan Institute for Public Policy’s “Rx New York”— addresses cultural barriers to immigrant enrollment and proposes a particular strategy for addressing those barriers.
· None of the proposals relying on expansions of public coverage addresses the concern among immigrants about effects of enrollment on their immigration status.
· Only one of the proposals—Assemblyman Richard Gottfried’s “New York Health Plus”—recognizes the need to address linguistic barriers faced by 2.3 million limited-English-proficient New Yorkers enrolling in and navigating the coverage system.
· Proposals relying on private coverage are more likely to avoid immigrant concerns about their immigration status but raise concerns about the adequacy of coverage to meet their needs.
· None of the proposals is likely to bring immigrant enrollment to the same level as enrollment of native born New Yorkers.

Study co-author Jenny Rejeske says, “Like other New Yorkers, immigrants are waiting for real reform and want the chance to purchase healthcare they can afford.” Rejeske added, “Immigrants want the same chance as other workers to raise healthy families and achieve the American dream, but because so many immigrants work in jobs that do not provide health insurance they often go without medical care.”

“Immigrants are largely invisible in coverage expansion proposals despite the fact they are more likely to be uninsured. Immigrants are essential to New York’s economy and addressing their unique needs and concerns should be a primary consideration, not an afterthought,” said NYSHealth Senior Vice President David Sandman.

Four of the plans analyzed by the report are being modeled by the Urban Institute for New York State: Assemblyman Richard Gottfried’s “New York Health Plus”, Single Payer “Medicare for All”, Combined Public-Private Reform, and The Freedom Plan. The other five plans analyzed by the report are: Community Service Society’s “Cornerstone for Coverage”, United Hospital Fund’s “Blueprint for Coverage”, Empire/Excellus Blue Cross Plan, Manhattan Institute for Public Policy’s “Rx New York”, and United Health Group Plan.

The complete report is available by clicking on the link below.

New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage (NYFAHC) is a statewide coalition of over 50 organizations representing people with disabilities and serious illnesses. NYFAHC leads the way to affordable, accessible, and meaningful health insurance.

New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy and advocacy organization for more than 200 groups in New York State that work with immigrants and refugees.

Support for this report was provided by the New York State Health Foundation, whose mission is to expand health insurance coverage, increase access to high-quality health care services, and improve public and community health was established by the State of New York with charitable funds from the privatization of Empire Blue Cross/Blue Shield.

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