In Run-up to Opening, UHF Roundtable Focuses on Reaching Remaining Uninsured, Public Charge Rule
Today marks the beginning of open enrollment for New York State of Health (NYSOH), the state’s Affordable Care Act (ACA) marketplace. New Yorkers can choose a qualified health plan (QHP) for 2020 coverage starting on November 1, 2019. Those with existing QHP coverage can renew their plans starting on November 16, 2019. The window for purchasing QHPs on or off the marketplace will close on January 31, 2020, except for individuals eligible for special enrollment periods. Enrollment in Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan is open year-round.
To help prepare for the new open enrollment period (OEP), the seventh under the ACA, UHF gathered consumers, city and state officials, and representatives of providers and health plans for a roundtable discussion, No Stone Unturned: Strategies for Enrolling New York’ s Eligible but Uninsured and Preserving Coverage Gains. At the October 23, 2019 event, participants discussed a presentation from a NYSOH official on how best to reach the hundreds of thousands of individuals who are eligible for financial assistance but still uninsured as well as NYSOH’s aggressive marketing and outreach plan for the 2020 OEP. A panel of experienced enrollment experts spoke about messages and strategies that worked and remaining obstacles.
One thread running through the day’s discussion was the “chilling effect” on enrollment caused by the Trump Administration’s “public charge” rule. The regulation is currently the subject of a nationwide temporary injunction in a federal case spearheaded by the New York’s Attorney General’s Office, which provided an update on the litigation.
Immigration advocates explained that the rule—which greatly expands the criteria that the federal government can use to deny legal permanent resident status to green card applicants based on their income, health status, and use of benefits—affects a relatively small number of New York immigrants. But the public charge rule, which has yet to take effect, is still having an outsized impact: it is just one part of the Trump administration’s broader, anti-immigration agenda that is creating a great deal of fear, uncertainty, and confusion in the immigrant community. For example, one enrollment counselor described a tearful conversation with a pregnant client who requested that her coverage be cancelled out of fear for her immigration status, even though the rule explicitly exempts pregnant women. The immigration experts detailed extensive activities undertaken by a broad coalition to correct misunderstandings about the rule’s effects, and their use of special screening tools to connect immigrants who are at risk to free legal services. They also urged support for a state-funded coverage expansion for noncitizens.
The roundtable was supported by the New York Community Trust. Presentations from the discussion can be downloaded on this page. Additional enrollment and public charge resources helpful to New Yorkers are provided below.
Enrollment and Public Charge Resources
NY State of Health (NYSOH) website: https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/
NYSOH Customer Service: 1-855-355-5777, TYY 1-800-662-1220
NYSOH Languages: https://nystateofhealth.ny.gov/language_support.html
Public Charge General Information and Resources: https://protectingimmigrantfamilies.org/
Public Charge Screening Tool: https://empirejustice.org/resources_post/public-charge-screening-tool/
Hotlines for immigration legal consultations:
Action NYC: Call (800)354-0365 and say “public charge.”
Office of New Americans: (800)566-7636
The Legal Aid Society Immigration Helpline: (844)955-3425