November 01, 2018

As Trump Administration Continues To Sabotage Access To Health Insurance For People With Preexisting Conditions, Gillibrand Announces Bill To Expand Access To High-Quality, Low-Cost Basic Health Program For Hundreds Of Thousands Of New Yorkers.

Legislation Would Allow New York State to Offer Its Essential Plan to More Than 400,000 New Yorkers; New York State Is One of Only Two States That Has a Basic Health Program and Has Seen Lowered Premiums and Higher Enrollment as a Result; Legislation Would Build on This Successful Program and Expand Health Care Access for Low-to-Middle-Income New Yorkers

Amityville, NY – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand today visited HRHCare Maxine S. Postal Tri-Community Health Center in Amityville to announce the Basic Health Program Expansion Act of 2018. This legislation would allow New York State to expand access to the high-quality, low-cost Basic Health Program (BHP) to low- and middle-income New Yorkers and people across the United States who don’t qualify for Medicaid or the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) but might not be able to pay for health insurance on their own. Under current law, New York’s BHP is only available to New Yorkers who earn up to $24,280 a year. This legislation would allow New Yorkers who make up to $48,560 to have access to this high-quality, low-cost health care option.

New York State is one of the only states that has adopted the BHP as an option to cover lower-income residents who do not qualify for Medicaid or CHIP. New York State has seen lower premiums, higher enrollment, and budget savings and participation from many health care providers and insurers as a result of participation in this program. The Basic Health Program Expansion Act of 2018 would build on the success of the current program and allow New York State to expand coverage offered through New York State’s Essential Plan to more than 400,000 low-to-middle-income New Yorkers and millions of Americans.

“No matter where I travel across our state, the number one issue I hear from New Yorkers is that they are worried about the enormous cost of health care and whether or not they will have access to affordable health care under this administration,” said Senator Gillibrand. “That’s why I’m fighting to pass the Basic Health Program Expansion Act of 2018, so we can expand access to high-quality, low-cost health care coverage for low-to-middle-income New Yorkers. I believe that health care is a right, not a privilege, and I will always work in Congress to support legislation that makes health care more accessible for families across our state.”

“It is critically important that we protect the most vulnerable members of our community, particularly those who struggle to afford prescription drugs, doctor visits, and other medical needs. At a time when access to healthcare is so uncertain because of the policies of the current administration, it is more important now than ever to take steps to protect the health of the public. I applaud Senator Gillibrand for taking the lead on this important issue,” said Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre.

“We thank Senator Gillibrand for coming to our Amityville Health Center, and encouraging us to continue our work of improving the health of our communities,” said Jim Sinkoff, HRHCare Deputy Executive Officer and Chief Financial Officer. “We fully support the Senator’s goal of expanding access to quality and affordable health care for all New Yorkers.”

“Access to health care is a right, not a privilege,” said Rev. Jeannette J. Phillips, HRHCare Executive Vice President and Founding Mother. “The story of Hudson River Health Care is centered on caring for those most in need in our communities. We thank the Senator for visiting us today and helping to carry that story forward.”

The Basic Health Program Expansion Act of 2018 that Gillibrand is fighting to pass would do the following:

  • Expands BHP eligibility to the state’s income eligibility levels for the Children’s Health Insurance Program in order to cover more lower-income individuals. Currently, a state’s BHP can provide coverage to individuals with incomes between 133 and 200 percent of the federal poverty line (FPL) who do not qualify for Medicaid, CHIP, or other minimum essential coverage. This bill would allow New York State to expand eligibility to people with incomes up to 400 percent of the FPL, which in 2018 was an income of $48,560 for an individual.
  • Allows states to use existing federal BHP funds for administrative and start-up costs for up to one year. Provides new flexibility for states to allow them to use existing BHP funds to help with the costs of implementing a new program for up to one year after enactment. Cost sharing and administration of a new program have been cited as barriers to implementing a BHP.

BHP benefits include all 10 of the essential benefits covered under the ACA:

  • Outpatient care
  • Emergency services
  • Maternity and newborn care
  • Mental health services, including drug and alcohol addiction treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Rehabilitative services and devices, such as physical therapy
  • Lab services including X-rays, CAT scans, bloodwork, ultrasounds, etc.
  • Preventative services
  • Pediatric services