New York, NY – Today, unions, including 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East; 32BJ SEIU; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO; Hotel and Gaming Trades Council (HTC); UAW Region 9A; New York State Nurses Association; and Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU, delivered a letter to Governor Hochul, giving their support to the Coverage for All bill, which would create a state-funded health coverage option for New Yorkers with income up to 200% of the federal poverty line regardless of immigration status.
Advocates continue to demand the inclusion of the Coverage for All bill in the upcoming state budget and the support from the United Healthcare Workers comes less than a month before state lawmakers must finalize the FY2023 budget. Today’s letter also follows a series of activations in Albany, Harlem, Long Island, Midtown and Westchester. Just two weeks ago, advocates rallied at the State Capitol in Albany, which ended with a die-in in the Capitol Concourse to mourn the deadly toll COVID-19 took on immigrant New Yorkers.
“Access to healthcare is a human right. Yet it’s one of the most expensive and stressful costs to families without health insurance or access to low-cost healthcare programs. Creating a plan that individuals can access regardless of their immigration status is a step towards ensuring that right is realized by the thousands of New Yorkers currently working without healthcare coverage,” said Stuart Appelbaum, president of the Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union.
“If we’re serious about tackling the disparities laid bare by Covid-19, then health care must finally be a right for all and not a privilege for a few. All of our neighbors, including our undocumented brothers and sisters, deserve quality care. Fundamentally, this campaign is about fairness and compassion, and we must stand for both.” said Kyle Bragg, 32BJ SEIU President.
“DC 37 wholeheartedly supports the passage of Coverage for All in the 2023 state budget. We believe that healthcare is a human right. Providing access to health coverage for New Yorkers regardless of their immigration status is imperative. It is one of the best ways to protect the health of all New Yorkers,” said DC 37 Executive Director Henry Garrido.
“1199SEIU believes that it is vital for every New Yorker to have access to affordable health care. Excluding individuals based on immigration status from New York’s Essential Plan jeopardizes public health and is contrary to our state’s core values as a community of immigrants. Our Union strongly supports this legislation as a matter of sound health policy and health justice,” said George Gresham, President of 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East.
“Immigrants are the heart and soul of New York, and so many have served as the state’s essential workers on the front lines of the pandemic,” said Rich Maroko, President, Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, AFL-CIO. “There is simply no reason why anyone should be excluded from access to healthcare based on their immigration status. HTC is proud to support the inclusion of Coverage for All in the FY23 Budget.”
“We thank the 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East; 32BJ SEIU; Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU); District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO; Hotel and Gaming Trades Council (HTC); UAW Region 9A; New York State Nurses Association; and Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU for their support in advocating for healthcare coverage for all, regardless of immigration status,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition. “Despite being at the frontlines of this pandemic, thousands of low-income New Yorkers still struggle with the effects of the pandemic and are unable to access comprehensive care. All New Yorkers deserve access to affordable health insurance. With the Legislature making it clear that Coverage for All is a priority, we urge Governor Hochul to show that these pandemic heroes are truly appreciated by providing them the opportunity to stay healthy, strong, and safe.”
Becca Telzak, Deputy Director of Make the Road New York, said, “At a time when immigrant communities continue to suffer from the pandemic and struggle accessing health care, New York State has the opportunity to lead our country and ensure immigrants are able to access affordable, quality healthcare services. We thank New York unions for their support in the growing push from patients, providers, and our communities to invest and improve our health care system. Governor Hochul and legislative leaders must include Coverage for All in the state budget this year. All New Yorkers, regardless of immigration status, deserve access to affordable health insurance and to have a healthy life.”
From the letter:
RE: A.880A/S.1572A: Expands Essential Plan Eligibility
Honorable New York Governor Kathy Hochul
Honorable New York Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
Honorable New York Assembly Speaker Carl E. Heastie
1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU
District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
Hotel and Gaming Trades Council
New York State Nurses Association
Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)
UAW Region 9A
RE: A.880A/S.1572A: Expands Essential Plan Eligibility
We write to you today in support of A.880A/S.1572A, which would extend health coverage through the State Essential Plan to individuals currently ineligible due to their immigration status. Our unions, which collectively represent hundreds of thousands of working people across New York, support this bill—health care is a human right, and our undocumented neighbors need coverage now more than ever.
Since the enactment of the Affordable Care Act in 2010, the amount of New Yorkers who are uninsured has been reduced considerably from 3 million to 1 million individuals. Undocumented immigrants represent around one-third of this number. Allowing these New Yorkers to access health coverage will enable them and their families to seek care they need. This bill would build upon the success of the Child Health Plus Program, which already covers children up to age 19 regardless of their immigration status. Currently, many of these individuals lose coverage after turning 19 years old.
Expanding coverage to adults regardless of their immigration status will also help all New Yorker’s be able to live and thrive in our great state. As we saw during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, immigrants, those with and without status, died at a higher rate than other marginalized and vulnerable communities. Our state's recovery must include all who call New York home.
For these reasons, the signatories support A.880A/S.1572A, and urge you to include Coverage for All in the NYS FY23 Budget.
George Gresham, President, 1199SEIU United Healthcare Workers East
Kyle Bragg, President, 32BJ SEIU
Dr. Darshan Patel, President, Committee of Interns and Residents SEIU
Henry Garrido, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME, AFL-CIO
Rich Maroko, President, Hotel and Gaming Trades Council, AFL-CIO
Pat Kane, RN, Executive Director, New York State Nurses Association
Stuart Appelbaum, President, Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)
Beverley Brakeman, Director and Deborah Wright, Political Director of UAW Region 9A
#Coverage4All is a campaign to expand coverage to all New Yorkers. The campaign is a coalition of community members, community organizations, health care providers, legal service providers, and labor, immigrant, and health care consumer advocates. Our objective is to create a statewide health insurance product for New Yorkers who are excluded from eligibility for coverage because of their immigration status, by enacting A880A/S1572A. A campaign of Health Care for All New York (HCFANY), #Coverage4All is led by the New York Immigration Coalition and Make the Road New York.