December 21, 2021
The Honorable Kathleen C. Hochul
Governor New York State
NYS State Capitol Building
Albany, NY 12224
Dear Governor Hochul:
On behalf of a coalition of organizations representing consumers, employers, immigrants, and health plans that are committed to ensuring access to high-quality, affordable health care, we are writing to urge inclusion in the FY23 Executive Budget proposal of a state-funded program to provide coverage to low-income individuals who are uninsurable due to their immigration status.
Immigrants constitute the third largest group of uninsured New Yorkers. While many immigrants obtain private coverage through their employer, family members, or in the individual market, 23% of noncitizens lack coverage compared to only 4% of native-born New Yorkers. Additionally, low-income immigrants have fewer coverage options than other low-income residents because of real and perceived eligibility restrictions related to immigration status.
Thousands of immigrants have served on the frontlines as essential workers throughout the pandemic, and COVID has had a disproportionate impact on immigrant communities. With approximately 154,000 low-income uninsured immigrants in New York State who are ineligible for federally funded health care coverage, a state-funded program providing health insurance to these individuals would be an important step to building a more equitable health care system for all of the State’s residents. It would further our collective efforts in stopping the spread of the virus by guaranteeing a welcoming health care system for all state residents. The gross costs of such a program would be halved because it would leverage existing federal and State Emergency Medicaid spending on this population, and it would reduce annual uncompensated care costs to hospitals.
With less than 5% of state residents uninsured, the State has been particularly successful in providing insurance coverage to New Yorkers and historically has been a national leader when it comes to addressing the health needs of immigrants. Importantly, this is why a broad range of organizations – including business entities – have coalesced around this proposal. Our organizations stand ready to work with you and members of your Administration, and we urge that the FY23 Executive Budget proposal include measures to provide access to coverage for low-income, uninsured immigrants to help narrow the coverage gap and further our collective goal of achieving universal coverage.
Community Service Society of NY
New York Immigration Coalition
Make the Road New York
Health Care for All New York
The Business Council of New York State
New York Health Plan Association
New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans