State health budget would increase by less than 1 % under most ambitious option
NEW YORK -- A policy paper issued today by the Community Service Society offers an in-depth analysis of costs, eligibility and coverage options related to providing affordable and high-quality health insurance to nearly a half million unauthorized immigrants living in New York who are uninsurable due to their immigration status.
The paper, “How New York Can Provide Health Coverage to its Uninsured Immigrant Residents,” describes three coverage options that would improve health coverage for a vulnerable segment of the state’s population while also closing the coverage gap left by the Affordable Care Act (ACA).
“Immigrants bring countless benefits to our state and to our nation,” said David R. Jones, President and CEO of CSS. “Extending health care opportunities that improve the lives of hard-working immigrants makes economic sense, enhances the health of our communities, and is consistent with our long history as a national leader in immigrant access and coverage.”
Under the ACA more than two million New Yorkers have enrolled in affordable, quality health coverage -- many for the first time – through the New York State of Health Marketplace. Yet, many unauthorized immigrants living and working in New York are left out of coverage. Despite the state’s expansive public insurance programs, there are as many as 457,000 unauthorized immigrants ineligible for coverage.
Lack of health coverage is burdensome for immigrant families and can mean excess mortality and morbidity, as well as financial ruin. The broader health care system is also affected because of the “hidden tax” the insured population pays for uncompensated care through taxes and cost shifting.
"The Community Service Society's analysis represents a critical tool for advancing the conversation about how New York State can provide coverage to all its residents regardless of immigration status," said Steve Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "The NYIC looks forward to working with CSS and our other partners as we partner to advance the “Coverage4All” campaign to strengthen immigrant families, health care providers and communities they call home."
Historically, New York State has been a national leader when it comes to policy measures addressing the health needs of immigrant residents. The policy paper investigates three coverage options that would extend health insurance to between 90,100 and 241,600 immigrants New Yorkers who are ineligible for Medicaid and Marketplace coverage due to their immigration status.
The first option, known as the Essential Plan Option, would target 241,600 undocumented adults with incomes below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Line (FPL) and cost $462 million. The second option, the Young Adult Option, is for 90,100 undocumented immigrants between the ages 19 and 29, and is the most affordable at $78 million. The final option, the Bronze Plan for 203,600 very low-income immigrants, would cost $307 million.
“The State Division of Budget has indicated that it is saving $645 million a year by shifting New York’s lawful immigrants from Medicaid into the new Essential Plan,” said Elisabeth R. Benjamin, MSPH, JD., CSS Vice President of Health Initiatives and co-founder of Health Care for All New York (HCFANY). “This funding could be used to help cover New York’s remaining immigrant residents who have been left behind by the Affordable Care Act.”
Funding even the most ambitious of these proposals would result in a less than one percent increase in the state’s health budget of roughly $65 billion.
All of the coverage options detailed in the report offer practical and affordable programmatic solutions that New York State could take to substantially improve the lives of New York’s newest residents and stabilize the state’s health care delivery system.