ALBANY — State Attorney General Barbara Underwood announced the federal government will restore $574 million to help fund a health plan that provides less expensive insurance to low-income people who do not qualify for Medicaid.
Underwood announced Wednesday the Trump administration ordered the restoration of $574 million for three-quarters of the year — or more than $750 million on an annual basis — in federal funding for New York’s Essential Plan, following the state’s lawsuit filed in January, that argues the U.S. Health and Human Services Department overstepped its power in October 2017 when it unlawfully cut funding to plans that help people on the cusp of qualifying for Medicaid.
“Earlier this year, we filed suit to block the Trump administration from cutting off vital health care funding for New York’s Essential Plan — which serves hundreds of thousands of low-income New Yorkers,” according to a statement from Underwood. “Following our suit, the Trump administration has now ordered $574 million restored – or more than $750 million on an annualized basis. We are evaluating the recent administrative order, and will continue to do what is necessary to protect New Yorkers’ health care.”
The Essential Plan is part of the Affordable Care Act — the state’s ACA health care system is called New York State of Health — and offers cost-sharing reduction payments, or subsidies paid to insurance companies in the ACA marketplace to give them incentive to pay out-of-pocket expenses for low-income people.
In 2016 New York became one of two states to offer the Essential Plan, offering cost-sharing reductions to people earning too much to qualify for Medicaid but can’t afford to pay for a regular qualified health plan.
“The state’s Essential Plan enables many low-income families to access necessary medical care, such as doctor visits for young children,” Assemblywoman Didi Barrett, D-106, said. “Federal funding should never have been cut in the first place, and I applaud Attorney General Underwood for taking forceful legal action against the federal administration that led to the restoration of the plan’s funds.”
In New York, people must meet certain household size and income requirements to buy the Essential Plan:
n A one person household with an income of $24,100.
n A two person household with an income of $32,480.
n A three person household with an income of $48,480.
n A four person household with an income of $49,200.
“Having this money secured is an important funding stream for New York’s Essential Plan,” U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, said. “This is an issue I raised with leadership in the House of Representatives at the end of 2017. The Essential Plan helps insure people who don’t have access to employer-sponsored health insurance by obtaining coverage and access to care. I also support further insurance reforms, which will actually lower premiums and deductibles for all families.”
In Columbia County, 8,452 people are enrolled in Medicaid and 1,573 people are enrolled in the Essential Plan as of February, according to data from the state Department of Health.
In Greene County 7,144 people are enrolled in Medicaid as of February and 967 people are enrolled in the Essential Plan.
“We send enough of our hard-earned tax dollars to Washington,” Assemblyman Chris Tague, R-102, said. “It’s welcoming news that this funding has been restored so New Yorkers have more affordable and accessible options when it comes to their health care. For many in the Catskills and Schoharie Valley, health care has unfortunately become a hardship. That’s what makes a strong partnership between the state and federal governments so important.”