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Trump restores $574M to health plan for low-income NYers not qualified for Medicaid

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    In Columbia County, 1,573 people are enrolled in New York’s Essential Plan, and 967 people are enrolled in Greene County.
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    Barbara Underwood being sworn in as the state’s acting attorney general in Albany in May. Underwood announced Wednesday the federal government restored $574 million to fund New York’s Essential Plan, which provides affordable health insurance for low-income people who do not qualify for Medicaid, after a lawsuit her office filed earlier this year to block cuts to the funding.
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    U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, wrote an op-ed piece published in the Albany Times Union in which he argued that the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program has to help people become self-sufficient while also pushing healthier foods and rooting out fraud that costs the federal government $650 million a year.
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August 31, 2018 04:24 pm

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.”