New York Health Insurance Plan Expansion Delayed
Missing the proposed Jan. 1 deadline, the implementation of New York's Family Health Plus program, which is intended to cover low-income working adults not eligible for Medicaid, has been delayed because HCFA has not yet approved the program, the Albany Times Union reports. Calling the delay "outrageous," Gov. George Pataki (R) said that the state has been "talking with HCFA" since April and submitted a formal proposal to the agency in June. "Since that time, despite repeated efforts by us, by our congressional delegation ... the Clinton administration has just failed to act," Pataki said. Timothy Westmoreland, HCFA's state and Medicaid center director, said, however, that the state has yet to provide "important financial information" that would prove the program to be "budget neutral." According to the Times Union, state and federal laws may be at odds on this issue: The state's Health Care Reform Act of 2000, which authorized Family Health Plus, called for the state to obtain a waiver of the budget neutrality provisions. John Signor, a spokesperson with the New York Health Department, said the state intends to pay for the program with revenues from a cigarette tax increase implemented last year and its share of the national tobacco settlement. Under the Family Health Plus proposal, about 600,000 people between the ages of 19 and 64 who are not eligible for Medicaid would be eligible for coverage. Single adults with annual earnings up to $8,350 and childless couples earning up to $11,250 annually would qualify. In addition, coverage would be available for families of four earning up to $25,575 per year (Jochnowitz, Albany Times Union, 12/29).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.