Expanding health insurance coverage to undocumented New Yorkers has won support from a broad coalition of political pundits, business lobbyists and immigrant rights advocates as state lawmakers are debating whether to include it in the state budget due next week.
The issue of extending health insurance to undocumented people in the state has gone largely unnoticed this budget season in Albany, as activists have called for additional benefits to help the undocumented community, such as replenishment from the excluded workers fund.
But the “coverage for all” proposal could have more lasting effects: expanding coverage as part of a “last mile” for New York residents not yet covered by health insurance.
“New York can step in and do the right thing,” said Elisabeth Benjamin, vice president of health initiatives, Community Service Society of NY. “As 8 in 10 New Yorkers agree, health care should be available to everyone, regardless of immigration status. And the price is right – we can cover our neighbors for just $345 million, a small fraction of New York’s health care budget.
This decision would affect all New Yorkers up to 200% of the federal poverty level who are excluded from coverage due to their immigration status. He has the backing of insurance companies, as well as top Democrats on the House and Senate Health Committees of the state legislature.
“No New Yorker should be denied health care because of their immigration status,” said Chairman of the Assembly Health Committee and sponsor of the bill Richard Gottfried. “New York should be a progressive leader in promoting health equity, and extending health coverage to undocumented adults is good fiscal and moral policy. It’s great news that the Assembly and Senate have included the Coverage for All Bill in our Single House Budget Proposals.”
And it has the backing of the New York State Business Council, which calls it an important step in reducing urgent care costs.
“By allowing undocumented immigrants access to the essential plan, we are shifting this important population from expensive emergency care to more affordable primary care,” said Lev Ginsburg, attorney for the New York State Business Council. The proposal gives every New Yorker access to health coverage, helps our neighbors and makes New York City healthier, all in a fiscally responsible way. We strongly support and urge the passage of Coverage4All into the budget.”
It is estimated that nearly 426,000 state residents are not eligible for health insurance coverage due to their immigration status. This includes 154,000 undocumented residents who live below 200% of the federal poverty level.
“Over the past few months, we have brought together a diverse group of advocates, business leaders, everyday New Yorkers and elected officials to secure justice in health care for our immigrant communities,” said said Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition. . “We have come together because we all believe it is high time to expand health coverage to low-income New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status. Now is the time for Governor Kathy Hochul and the state legislature to finish the job we started and include coverage for all in the state budget. This goes beyond health care justice; it’s an essential first step on the road. of the recovery of New York State.”