HOCHUL: RENEW YOUR HEALTH INSURANCE: Governor Kathy Hochul announced on May 15 that health insurance renewals have begun for more than 9 million New Yorkers enrolled in public health insurance programs, and New York stands ready to help consumers stay covered. The federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2023 ended the requirement to keep individuals continuously enrolled in Medicaid, Child Health Plus, and the Essential Plan. Federal law now requires eligibility reviews for public programs to resume. Current state enrollees will receive renewal notices in advance of their coverage end dates with detailed instructions of how to stay covered and their deadline to take action.
“New Yorkers deserve access to quality and affordable health care, which is why my administration has prioritized delivering health insurance to a record number of New Yorkers,” Governor Hochul said. “Through our nation-leading health care system, we continue to ensure everyone in our state has access to the best care available and I urge New Yorkers to renew their coverage in New York’s public health insurance programs.”
In coordination with the Department of Health, participating health insurance plans, health care providers, and thousands of certified enrollment staff across the state stand prepared to assist consumers through the renewal process and keep New Yorkers covered. The Department of Health has reviewed federal government guidance; developed plans to enhance systems; increased resources and added staff; and collaborated with state and federal government officials, local departments of social services, partners, advocates and other stakeholders to help New Yorkers navigate the changes to their insurance programs.
Throughout the next year, current enrollees will receive renewal notices based on the end date of their coverage. Enrollees with coverage end dates of June 30 have already begun receiving their renewal notices. New York State of Health enrollees should follow the instructions on their renewal notices and take any needed actions once the renewal window opens to avoid a gap in health insurance coverage. Members who enrolled through their county’s local Department of Social Services or the New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) will receive a renewal packet in the mail and should follow the instructions and deadlines outlined in that packet to renew their coverage.
New Yorkers whose incomes and other family circumstances have changed since the pandemic began and are no longer eligible for fully subsidized public coverage, continue to have a broad range of free or low-cost health insurance options available. New York’s Essential Plan for low-income individuals will smooth the transition for New Yorkers who no longer qualify for Medicaid and enhanced federal tax credits will make coverage more affordable for individuals transitioning to a Qualified Health Plan.
Enrollment in NY State of Health will remain open through May 2024 so anyone who loses their Medicaid, Child Health Plus, or Essential Plan coverage during the redetermination process will be able to enroll in a Qualified Health Plan, if they qualify.
New York has made major strides in recent years, combined with federal efforts, to improve the affordability and accessibility of health insurance, bringing uninsured rates to historically low levels:
In the State FY 2021 Budget, New York eliminated premiums in the Essential Plan for adults not eligible for Medicaid with incomes up to 200 percent of FPL;
In 2021, New York expedited the availability of enhanced Premium Tax Credits for Qualified Health Plan coverage for New Yorkers with incomes above 200 percent of FPL;
In the State FY 2023 Budget, New York extended 12 months postpartum coverage to pregnant individuals in Medicaid, eliminated premiums for children with incomes at or below 222 percent of FPL in the Child Health Plus programs, and aligned Medicaid eligibility levels for all adults at 138 percent of FPL;
In the State FY 2024 Budget, the state reiterated its intention to seek a federal waiver to extend the Essential Plan to more low- and moderate-income New Yorkers with incomes up to 250 percent of FPL, which will smooth the transition for consumers moving from Medicaid.
For more on New York State Marketplace eligibility and renewals, New Yorkers should reach out to their local Department of Social Services office (www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/ldss.htm), or learn more on the NY State of Health website (info.nystateofhealth.ny.gov/COVID-19-Changes) and the Department of Health’s Medicaid website (www.health.ny.gov/health_care/medicaid/changes/). Governor Hochul’s FY 2024 Enacted Budget (www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-hochul-announces investments-create-stronger-health-care- system-future) provides an additional $22 billion multi-year investment to support the State’s health care system, including an additional $1 billion in health care capital funding for providers and expanded Medicaid benefits for more than 7.8 million low-income New Yorkers.
HOCHUL ADDRESSES NURSE SHORTAGE: Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation (A3076-A/S447-C) into law on May 15, strengthening New York’s health care workforce by permitting nursing students to complete up to one third of their clinical training through simulation experiences. Overseen by the New York State Education Department, simulation training gives students hands-on experience in clinical environments while allowing nursing education programs to offer more options for clinical education. As New York currently faces a nursing shortage, expanding simulation experiences can help expedite training and deliver an influx of nurses where they are needed most.
“Our nurses have been invaluable to our health care system, especially throughout the pandemic, but too often feel overworked doing the jobs that they love, which has only been amplified by the current nursing shortage,” Governor Hochul said. “I’m proud to sign legislation strengthening our health care workforce expediting training and allowing more capable nurses into the workforce improving care for all and creating a safer, healthier New York.”
Legislation (A3076-A/S447-C) allows for up to one third of clinical education in nursing certificate and degree education programs to be completed through simulation experience. This will make nursing education more accessible, helping to address New York’s nursing shortage, which is projected to reach a workforce need of nearly 40,000 employees by 2030. Training needed to become a highly skilled nurse in New York requires clinical placements in a hospital setting, and until students complete those placements, they cannot receive their nursing license and join the workforce. Allowing more simulated training will enable nursing programs to expand their capacity to educate students eager to become nurses, address the shortage, and ensure high quality care for millions of New Yorkers. In addition to New York, high-tech, high-quality simulation training is already in place in 31 states.
State Senator Toby Ann Stavisky said, “We’ve been talking about the nursing shortage for years and now we’re finally doing something about it. By utilizing technology to simulate clinical training, we will graduate a new generation of New York trained nurses with hands-on experience. Currently, nursing programs are turning away qualified applicants. With this legislation, New York will join 31 other states in allowing simulation experience. Rarely have I seen such unanimity on a bill. This statute is a result of a collaboration between all stakeholders: Governor Kathy Hochul, Assemblymembers Donna Lupardo and Pat Fahy, legislative leaders and staff, CICU, SUNY and CUNY Chancellors and SED.”
ADDABBO CO-SPONSORS KYRA’S LAW: New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. is co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill (S.3170A), known as “Kyra’s Law,” to protect children from parents or guardians who intend to harm them. This legislation mandates judges to consider past accusations of abuse or domestic violence to ensure that the child’s safety is a priority when deciding on custody or visitation.
“Kyra’s law is the direct result of tireless advocacy by Kyra’s mother, Jacqueline Franchetti, and many supporters of her efforts,” said Sen. Addabbo after meeting with Jacqueline in his Albany office. “This legislation will ensure accountability and oversight, an important step in protecting New York’s children from neglect and tragic consequences at the hands of an abusive parent or guardian.”
Kyra’s Law would mandate court officials to take part in new training for handling cases regarding domestic violence and child abuse. The goal of the legislation is to keep children away from potentially dangerous parents by requiring courts to consider the health and safety of the child before making any decisions related to visitation or custody.
Courts would need to consider past and present abuse committed by the parent against the child, violence committed by the parent to their partner or other children in the home, and if the child is actively fearful of the parent and their behavior. The bill would also require courts to hold an evidentiary hearing to enter findings of domestic violence, child abuse, or child sexual abuse before making any final determination.
The Kyra Franchetti Foundation was created by Jacqueline Franchetti in memory of her 2-year-old daughter Kyra, who was shot to death while sleeping by her biological father, who then set his house on fire and killed himself during an unsupervised, court-approved visit.
Kyra’s father had a history of emotional and verbal abuse to Jacqueline during their relationship, so when she became pregnant, Jacqueline left him. After Kyra was born, he reappeared, seeking custody. Throughout two years of custody hearings, the court received numerous notifications that Kyra’s father was angry, violent, and suicidal, while he continued to harass, threaten, and stalk her. Jacqueline’s pleas for help and his dangerous behaviors were ignored as the forensic evaluator recommended joint custody.
Kyra’s Law also works to prevent courts from assuming that a child’s negative relationship with one parent has been caused by another and to discontinue the practice of restricting a child’s time spent with one parent in order to improve the relationship with another.
“As a father of two daughters, it’s heartbreaking to learn that the experts and authorities involved in this case failed to protect Kyra by choosing to ignore the pattern of abusive behavior presented to them, ultimately granting Kyra’s father unsupervised visitation that ended in a tragic, yet avoidable, loss of life. We need to pass this legislation and enact Kyra’s law to make sure no other child has the same fate as Kyra, and no other family has to deal with a similar tragedy,” Addabbo concluded.
The Kyra Franchetti Foundation works to raise awareness about the risk of family violence, especially to children, inside and outside New York’s divorce/family court system. They seek to change the way issues of violence and abuse are addressed in family courts so that child safety is put above all else. To learn more about the Kyra Franchetti Foundation, visit their website at kyrafranchetti.org.
If you or someone you know is in an abusive situation and a child is endangered, please call the NYS Domestic Violence 24-Hour Hotline at 1-800-942-6906 or 711 for Deaf or Hard of Hearing.
The Senate bill (S.3170A) and the companion Assembly bill (A.3346A) are currently under consideration by their respective Judiciary Committees.
SENATE APPROVES CRIME VICTIMS’ BILLS: New York State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, Jr. and his Senate colleagues approved legislation to strengthen crime victims’ rights, protections for survivors and expand SNUG programs. In addition to passing legislation, the Senate secured $13 million for state victim and witness assistance, $5 million in grants for assistance to survivors and victims of domestic violence, and $4.5 million for rape crisis centers in the 2023-2024 state budget.
“Fighting crime is a top priority in Albany, so these bills will help to improve protections, services, and compensation for victims, expand access to sealed records for prosecutors, and expand critical SNUG programs,” Addabbo stated. “This legislative package is vital to ensuring victims have the necessary support to heal and recover from their trauma. By strengthening victims’ rights and holding offenders accountable for their actions, we can continue restoring public safety in our communities,” added Addabbo.
The legislation passed by the Senate includes:
• S.936 (Addabbo co-sponsor) – Requires statewide housing authorities to grant domestic violence survivors the same preference as granted to other prioritized populations.
• S.303 – Expands the definition of “welfare” in order to enable victims of crime to receive reimbursement for personal property that was lost, damaged, or stolen. The reimbursement or replacement of property will assist the victim in regaining stability and maintaining a reasonable standard of living.
• S.3340 – Requires reporting of extreme risk protection orders to the statewide, computerized registry of orders of protection and certain arrest warrants.
• S.1901 – Enacts Emma’s Law, which provides for victim statements at the sentencing of a defendant for a misdemeanor.
• S.1951 – Removes the current 10-year period from the crime of persistent sexual abuse.
• S.3071 (Addabbo co-sponsor) – Allows prosecutors to access orders of protection issued in association with sealed prior domestic violence cases if the offender commits a new domestic violence offense.
• S.3236 – Adds to the definition of a victim of a sexual offense by including a victim of unlawful dissemination or publication of an intimate image.
• S.5916 (Addabbo co-sponsor) – Provides clarification that claims filed against governmental entities under the Adult Survivors Act do not require filing a notice of claim or a notice of intention to file a claim.
• S.2364 (Addabbo co-sponsor) – Establishes an operation SNUG program to provide educational, youth justice, gang prevention, social work, street outreach, and more programs and services that aim to reduce, prevent, or respond to gun violence.
• S.214A – Expands eligibility for victims and survivors of crimes to access victim-compensation funds by removing the mandatory law-enforcement reporting requirement, providing alternative forms of evidence that show a qualifying crime was committed, and the confidentiality of certain records.
• S.5502 – Provides additional rights to crime victims and requires the court or district attorney, at sentencing or at the earliest time possible, to provide the victims of said crime with an informational sheet explaining their rights.
“I hope the Assembly will act swiftly to pass these important bills so they can be delivered to the Governor and signed into law. Constituents are counting on us to enact these measures to help address the rise in gun violence and return some stability to the lives of crime victims,” concluded Addabbo.
QUEENS GIRL PLACES IN STATEWIDE POSTER CONTEST: Richmond Hill resident Bailey Trust and her family visited Albany to be recognized by the Division of Criminal Justice Services (DCJS) as the 3rd Place Award Winner of their statewide 2023 NYS Missing Children’s Day Poster contest, themed “Bringing Our Missing Children Home.” Bailey’s impressive poster was admired by her NYS Senator, Joe Addabbo, Jr., who also presented Bailey with a Senate Certificate, commending her outstanding creativity.
—With contributions by Annette Hanze Alberts
This column was originated by John A. Toscano
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