As New York State works to implement health reform, key opportunities exist to expand coverage options for immigrants. This NYSHealth-supported report, written by the New York Immigration Coalition in conjunction with Empire Justice Center, presents the choices New York State policymakers will need to make to preserve and promote immigrants' access to health care coverage and to mitigate disparities between citizens and noncitizens in health care.
The report emphasizes the options in areas in which states have a high degree of flexibility, including eligibility classifications; documentation and verification policies and practices; marketing and outreach; and oversight and monitoring. It also includes recommendations for ensuring access to care for those immigrants who will remain uninsured even after health reform is implemented.
Among the report's recommendations:
Shape the State's eligibility classification to ensure the broadest possible inclusion of immigrants under the Affordable Care Act. Currently, immigration status definitions, and eligibility for public benefits, vary by federal and state program rules. The report recommends the cases in which New York can apply the more expansive eligibility standards.
Develop mechanisms for verifying citizenship and immigration status while protecting confidentiality and due process. Enrollment into public insurance programs and the Health Benefit Exchange will require verification and documentation of status. The report recommends specific options for verification that also maintain privacy.
Conduct tailored, active outreach and marketing to engage immigrants and enroll them in health insurance coverage programs. Given the tremendous racial, ethnic, cultural, and language diversity of the State's residents, a range of tailored approaches can meet the unique needs of immigrant communities.
Secure the safety net and charity care programs. Undocumented immigrants and some others will remain uninsured even after health reform is implemented, so the safety-net system of care will remain important to New York State's health care infrastructure.