At 11th Hour, Legislature Delivers Vital Reform on Health Care

Albany, NYEarly this morning, the legislature provided a crucial addition to Governor Hochul’s final FY 2023 budget by voting on and passing bills that expanded Medicaid coverage to all eligible women, regardless of immigration status, for up to 12 months post-pregnancy, and removed the citizenship requirements for access to Medicaid for those 65 years of age or older. By expanding the number of immigrant New Yorkers who can access health care, the legislature brought us one step closer to ensuring more New Yorkers are healthy through access to preventative health care. This was an important step for New York State, but far more needs to be done to ensure the health and security of tens of thousands of immigrant New Yorkers who still cannot access affordable health care because of their age and their immigration status. (The Coverage for All campaign has broad public support and the backing of business leaders, advocates, health insurance representatives, and Governor Hochul’s hometown newspaper, The Buffalo News.) 

Thanks largely to Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousin and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie, the budget also provides a  $20 million investment in immigrant legal services and funding for a statewide expansion of language access services. 

While we made some significant gains, this budget session was far from a victory for immigrant New Yorkers and our allies. Acquiescing to right-wing fear-mongering, Governor Hochul rolled back critical bail reform efforts and denied access to affordable childcare to immigrant families—actions that will hurt immigrants, Black people, and people of color the most.

Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition:

“Tonight, at the 11th hour, Senate Majority Andrea Stewart-Cousins and Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie extracted the first step towards healthcare justice for more immigrant New Yorkers from our Governor. While the legislature’s efforts were vital, Governor Hochul still managed to preserve a healthcare system for the few rather than the many. Much more needs to be done, but we are pleased that no longer will we deny our elders and post-pregnancy access to quality, affordable health care.

However, as a values document, the budget clarifies which New Yorkers the Governor represents and works for in Albany. The Excluded Workers Fund remains empty, bail reform will be rolled back, and thousands of immigrant families will remain excluded from affordable childcare options. Our Governor opted to side with the forces of the rich and powerful over the interests of working families. All of this comes at a moment that demands our leaders ensure the health and security of every New Yorker. The pandemic has made clear that we are only as healthy as our most vulnerable neighbor, yet this is a lesson that Governor Hochul has failed to heed at the very moment when New Yorkers are bracing for another contagious strain of COVID-19.

“While overall we are disappointed in the budget and think it does harm to BIPOC, immigrant, and low-wage communities around the state, we did see gains due to the tireless advocacy of our community and allies. We secured funding for immigrant legal services, expanded health coverage for immigrant seniors, and the statewide expansion of language access in the NYFY23 budget. This funding will ensure that our families are able to access the information and support they need to stay safe and together. 

“Our fight for the health and well-being of every New Yorker will continue on the streets, in the halls of power, and at the ballot box. We stand ready to remind Governor Hochul or whoever occupies the Governor’s Mansion next year that New York’s 4.4 million immigrants are the heart and soul of this state and deserve the safety and protection afforded every other New Yorker.”