HPA Highlights Key Priorities in Health Budget Proposals

New York Health Plan Association (HPA) President and CEO Eric Linzer will testify at tomorrow’s Senate and Assembly joint hearing on the Executive’s health budget plan.  Among the major priority issues he will outline:

Protecting Medicaid Managed Care & Opposing the Mandatory Procurement Proposal

In its testimony, HPA outlines its opposition to the provision in the Governor’s budget proposal that would require the Department of Health to procure nearly the entire Medicaid managed care program, directing DOH to select at least two but no more than five plans in each region. Limiting the number of health plans in the Medicaid program will take away choices from the state’s most vulnerable residents, disrupting care for patients and providers and undermining the state’s health equity goals.

“New York’s Medicaid program has traditionally emphasized access and patient choice.  That is a big reason why New York has successfully enrolled hundreds of thousands of individuals who would otherwise be uninsured,” Linzer said. “It has also been successful in improving health care outcomes, in large part because of the work of the health plans. The budget proposal will undercut those efforts.”

Supporting Coverage Expansion Including a State-Funded Option for Low-Income, Uninsured Immigrants

HPA’s testimony expresses the industry’s support for provisions in the Governor’s budget to expand coverage — including expanding eligibility for the Essential Plan and eliminating premiums for the Child Health Plus program — and urges policymakers to go further by supporting the creation of a state-funded insurance option for uninsured, low-income immigrants.

According to Linzer, “New York has made remarkable progress in expanding coverage to millions of residents, reducing the uninsured rate to less than 5%.  Making coverage available to these individuals would be an important step in furthering the goal of universal coverage.”

Providing Funding for Unanticipated Health Plan Costs Related to COVID Testing Requirements

As HPA outlines in its testimony, in the almost two years since the start of the coronavirus pandemic, HPA’s member health plans have made sure that New Yorkers have access to needed care, including coverage of diagnostic testing for COVID-19 without any cost-sharing. Costs to plans associated with testing — diagnostic testing throughout 2020 and 2021 and now new federal requirements for health plan coverage of over-the-counter tests — have been significant yet were not factored into commercial premium rates.

In discussing the request for funding to support COVID testing costs Linzer noted, “The state’s health plans have worked to protect patients, support our partners in the delivery system, and assist employers throughout this global health crisis. Policymakers should utilize a portion of the federal funding provided to New York to offset COVID testing costs to defray the unanticipated expenses health plans have incurred.”