The Business Council supports the programmatic concept of S.3900 (Rivera) / A.5974 (Gottfried), which would allow people, currently ineligible for federal financial participation because of immigration status, to buy health insurance under New York’s Essential Health program.
New York has been particularly successful in providing insurance coverage to our residents. In fact, more than 95% of state residents are covered and the state’s uninsured rate dropped to 4.7 percent in 2017, the lowest ever recorded. Of the remaining New Yorkers who remain uninsured, as many as half are believed to be undocumented immigrants, who are ineligible for current coverages. This bill would secure coverage for this population, leaving the percentage of uninsured New Yorkers at near 2%, incredibly close to universal coverage.
We believe that the sponsors are correct in their assessment that a significant portion of the cost of this expansion will be saved in emergency Medicaid spending on this same population that will no longer be necessary. Additionally, the eligible population would be paying some minor premium amounts to contribute to their own coverage. We are less convinced that the total cost of this expansion would be only $500 million.
Assuming however that the cost of this program expansion is double the estimate provided by the sponsors, it would still achieve a halving of the state’s uninsured population for less than $1 billion. This pales in comparison to the $250 billion price tag of the sponsors’ government-run “New York Health Plan” and is a far sounder solution to getting the state to universal coverage.
The Business Council supports the Governor’s budget proposal to create a commission to evaluate options for achieving universal access to high-quality, affordable health care in New York. The concept of S.3900 (Rivera) / A.5974 (Gottfried) should be an important part of that evaluation and could be a significant part of the solution to universal coverage.
More work is needed to address the cost of health care and subsequently health insurance. We believe that there are many avenues that can be pursued to ensure universal coverage with New York without resorting to programs that will cost hundreds of millions of dollars, destroy tens of thousands of jobs and severely damaging our economy for decades to come, and this bill proves it.
It is for these reasons that The Business Council supports this concept proposed by Senator Rivera and Assembly Member Gottfried.