#WhereIsCuomo — Legislature Introduces Bills To Ensure Coverage For All New Yorkers

ALBANY, NY - Disappointed with Governor Andrew Cuomo’s lack of budget commitment to fund health care for all New Yorkers regardless of immigration status, New York’s #Coverage4All coalition stood this morning in Albany wearing “#WhereIsCuomo” t-shirts to ask the state legislature to step up.

The #Coverage4All coalition expressed disappointment in Governor Cuomo for failing to back his election commitments with budget funding for immigrant health care. At the same time, they voiced warm support for newly-introduced legislation to expand health coverage to all New Yorkers right now, introduced by Assembly Member Richard Gottfried (Bill number A-5974) and Senator Gustavo Rivera (Bill number S-3900).

The bills, introduced February 23, would use state dollars to expand New York State's Essential plan to New Yorkers who make up to 200% of the poverty level and are currently excluded from health coverage because of their immigration status. More than 400,000 New Yorkers cannot enroll in health insurance because of their immigration status, and #Coverage4All estimates that 110,000 of them would enroll in such a plan, saving lives and boosting New York’s economy.

Immigrant communities are currently under attack, threatened by the policy agenda in Washington, D.C. and looking to New York to stand up and lead. By passing the bills, now, the New York legislature can ensure that coverage for all is a reality.

#Coverage4All member Max Hadler, Director of Health Policy at the New York Immigration Coalition, and Co-Lead of the Coverage4All campaign, said: “Governor Cuomo continues to perpetuate health insurance discrimination by depriving more than 400,000 New Yorkers of coverage due to their immigration status. We call on the State Legislature to right this wrong and demonstrate to the Governor that healthcare is a human right, regardless of immigration status."

#Coverage4All and Make the Road New York Member Carlos P. said: "I have never had access to health insurance because of my immigration status. About two years ago, I became sick, lost my job, and have been unable to work since then. It has been a great struggle these past 2 years and I have been overwhelmed by my large amount of medical debt. Because I don't have health insurance, I have been unable to obtain a hearing aid. Myself along with many others in my community deserve access to affordable health insurance, and the right to a healthy life."

Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera said: "Every step we take towards a healthcare system that reaches each and every New Yorker makes our state healthier. As the proud sponsor of the bill to expand the Essential Plan, I stand firmly with the #Coverage4All Coalition in pushing to provide all New Yorkers, regardless of their immigration status, the healthcare coverage they desperately need. This measure would bring New York State closer to guaranteeing healthcare as a right and not a privilege as we work to pass the New York Health Act.”

Assembly Health Committee Chair Richard N. Gottfried said: “New York has for years provided health coverage for many undocumented immigrants using State-only dollars. No New Yorker should be denied health care because of immigration status. We should lead against the narrow-minded attacks from Washington by expanding care to undocumented adults. Even better, we should cover all New Yorkers through the comprehensive, universal, publicly-funded New York Health Act single-payer bill.”

#Coverage4All member Bob Cohen, Policy Director of Citizen Action of New York, said: "Immigrants in our community are facing unprecedented attacks on a federal level. Governor Cuomo has said that he wants to protect immigrants from Trump's racist and destructive agenda, but this promise needs to be more than just rhetoric. The Governor can show that he's serious about protecting immigrants by including funding for immigrant health coverage in the final budget."

#Coverage4All member Yasmin Meah, MD, Medical Director of East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership (EHHOP), said: “Uninsured New Yorkers seek medical care at our physician-supervised, student-run free clinic every week we're open. In caring for our patients, many of whom have limited to no options for timely, affordable, and quality care elsewhere, I see how our healthcare system fails immigrant communities. Ensuring comprehensive access to healthcare for all New Yorkers cannot wait any longer."

#Coverage4All member Elisabeth Benjamin, Vice President of Health Initiatives of the Community Service Society of New York said: “New York’s immigrant residents desperately need affordable quality health coverage now,” “New Yorkers cannot wait another year, for another study, just to confirm what we already know:  health insurance dramatically alleviates morbidity and mortality and improves the health care system for everyone.”

#Coverage4All member Frankie Miranda, Executive Vice President of Hispanic Federation, said: “Where Congress has failed, New York must continue to lead. For many New Yorkers, access to health insurance can be the difference between life and death, and no other group in our state faces more significant obstacles to affordable and quality care than undocumented New Yorkers. With hundreds of thousands of immigrants and their families currently locked out of our state’s health care system, we urge Governor Cuomo and other policymakers to create a state-funded Essential Plan that benefits all New Yorkers regardless of their immigration status and protect Medicaid eligibility for New Yorkers who lose Temporary Protected Status (TPS). This will not only reinforce our state’s leadership and commitment to protecting immigrant communities, but help advance the health and well-being of all our communities.”

#Coverage4All member Charles King, CEO of Housing Works, said: “It is well and good for Governor Cuomo to call press conferences to say New York stands with immigrants. But if we are serious about standing with immigrants it means more than cheap talk. At minimum, it means making sure every immigrant has access to basic preventive and primary health care. We don’t need a study or commission to figure out that the Essential Plan expansion make sense!”

#Coverage4All member Yleana Roman, an attorney with New York Lawyers for the Public Interest (NYLPI), said: “Governor Cuomo made a big point of supporting immigrant communities in his election campaign. Even though he hasn’t backed that talk in his budget, it’s good to see the legislature is willing to keep him honest. New York has a history of providing coverage to immigrant communities excluded from federal programs, and the state should continue to step up where federal policies fall short and lead nationally on immigrant healthcare issues.”

#Coverage4All member Michele Lampach, Executive Director, UnLocal, said: “UnLocal's work with thousands of undocumented New Yorkers has shown us how vital health insurance is to ensuring stability, safety and health. We have also seen that under this current administration, many undocumented communities are not accessing services out of fear. We urge Governor Cuomo to commit to the well-being of all undocumented New Yorkers by supporting health coverage for all undocumented immigrants to show New York State's commitment to the health and well-being of all New Yorkers and to show that New York will protect ALL of its communities.”

#Coverage4All member Melanie Kruvelis with Young Invincibles said: “More than 400,000 New Yorkers lack health care coverage due to their immigration status, many of whom are young adults. Under the Trump Administration, immigrants have faced hostility and opposition as they work to protect themselves and their communities. If Governor Cuomo truly wants to be a champion for the state’s undocumented immigrants, ensuring they have access to comprehensive, affordable health care must be a priority.”

Notes to editors

About Coverage 4 All

Coverage 4 All is a campaign of Health Care for All New York (HCFANY) led by Make the Road New York and the New York Immigration Coalition. Member organizations include New York Lawyers For The Public Interest (NYLPI.org).

About the Community Service Society of New York

For 175 years, the Community Services Society has been fighting poverty and strengthening New York by bringing the concerns of low- and moderate-income New Yorkers to the policy conversation.

About EHHOP

East Harlem Health Outreach Partnership (EHHOP) is a physician-supervised, student-run free clinic that provides comprehensive, quality medical care to uninsured patients in East Harlem.

About Hispanic Federation

Hispanic Federation (HF) is the nation’s premier Latino nonprofit membership organization with a mission to empower and advance the Hispanic community. Founded in 1990, HF seeks to support Hispanic families and strengthen Latino institutions through work in the areas of education, health, immigration, civic engagement, economic empowerment, and the environment.

About Make the Road New York

Make the Road New York (MRNY) builds the power of immigrant and working-class communities to achieve dignity and justice through organizing, policy innovation, transformative education, and survival services. MRNY has 23,000+ members and operate five community centers in Bushwick, Brooklyn; Jackson Heights, Queens; Port Richmond, Staten Island; Brentwood, Long Island; and White Plains, Westchester County.

About The New York Immigration Coalition

The New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) is an umbrella policy & advocacy organization that represents over 200 immigrant and refugee rights groups throughout New York, creating justice and opportunity for all.

About New York Lawyers for the Public Interest

Founded 40 years ago by leaders of the bar, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest pursues equality and justice for New Yorkers. NYLPI works towards a New York where all people can thrive in their communities, with quality healthcare and housing, safe jobs, good schools, and healthy neighborhoods. In our vision, all New Yorkers live with dignity and independence, with the access and resources they need to succeed. NYLPI’s community-driven approach powers its commitments to civil rights and to health, disability, immigrant, and environmental justice. NYLPI seeks lasting change through litigation, community organizing, policy advocacy, pro bono service, and education.

About UnLocal

UnLocal works with 70+ community based organizations, schools, and city-wide groups to provide legal representation and community education to undocumented immigrants in all five boroughs of New York City.

About Young Invincibles

Young Invincibles is a national organization committed to amplifying the voices of young adults, ages 18-34, & expanding economic opportunity for the generation.

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