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Advocates Proclaim: “Community is the Key to a Healthy NYC!”


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Press Contact: Claudia Calhoon,  Main Phone: 212-627-2227 x. 249,  E-mail: ccalhoon@nyic.org
New York  (Thursday, October 23, 2014)

Advocates Proclaim: “Community is the Key to a Healthy NYC!”


Urge Council to Fund ACCESS HEALTH NYC, New Program to Link Underserved Communities to Care

(New York, NY) The People’s Budget Coalition for Public Health (PBC), an alliance of over 15 community and labor organizations united around preserving and expanding NYC’s public health programs and services, held a press conference immediately prior to the New York City Council’s hearing on the roll-out of the Affordable Care Act in New York City on Thursday, October 23rd to urge the Mayor and City Council to take action to increase access to health care and coverage for all New York City residents. Citing numerous barriers New Yorkers face in accessing health care and coverage, community organizations and union leaders called upon the City Council to create a new $5 million initiative that would fill the gaps left by federal health care reform and connect all New Yorkers to health care.

Although the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has increased coverage for many New Yorkers, many communities have not benefited from health care reform because of lack of information or confusion regarding eligibilities and options. Furthermore, some categories of immigrants were specifically excluded from provisions in the Affordable Care Act on the federal level, but are not aware that they are eligible for many services in New York City.

In order to reach New Yorkers not yet connected to care, the city needs to create a program that reaches out to underserved communities, including low-income people, immigrants, communities of color, women and children, LGBT individuals, and people living with disabilities and chronic illness. The key to a successful program to link underserved individuals to care is community-based organizations that speak to them in languages they can understand. The City Council can unlock the potential of health care reform in NYC by putting $5 million for a new initiative, Access Health NYC, which would fund community-based organizations to link individuals to care.  Access Health NYC is an urgently-needed initiative that recognizes that community is the key to ensuring that all New Yorkers have access to health care.

“The Affordable Care Act has extended health insurance coverage to over a million more New Yorkers,” said Council Member Corey Johnson who Chairs the Council’s Committee on Health.  “Yet many remain unenrolled because they are not aware they are eligible or because outreach has not touched them in a culturally competent way. The groups gathered here are on the front-lines of extending coverage to hard-to-reach New Yorkers and today's hearing is about learning from them how the Council can play a large role in insuring as many New Yorkers as possible  when enrollment opens on November 15."

"Before the ACA, 1 out of 5 Asian Americans did not have health insurance, and of those that lacked insurance, over 71% were foreign-born. The Asian American community greatly benefited from plans on the Marketplace and the expansion of Medicaid – however, there are still large segments of the population that still do not have coverage,” explained Noilyn Abesamis-Mendoza, Health Policy Director, Coalition for Asian American Children & Families. “The lack of adequate language assistance and targeted culturally competent marketing to the Asian American community lead to considerable misinformation and confusion and in some cases deterred them from enrolling in the marketplace, Medicaid, or CHIP even if they were eligible. This required many Asian American-serving community based organizations to fill the gaps by translating and correcting existing marketplace materials, often without financial support. The Access Health NYC initiative is imperative in ensuring that all communities know their rights and options to access quality health care."

"Planned Parenthood of New York City provides high quality, confidential health care to all people regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status and we are honored to be part of a coalition fighting to improve access to health care for all New Yorkers,” Said Alice Berger, VP at Planned Parenthood of New York City.  “As a safety net provider, we know all too well the realities so many New Yorkers face as they struggle with numerous barriers to accessing care. Every day we see how income inequality, language access, and immigration status prevent many New Yorkers from receiving the care they need. We urge the City Council to prioritize the voices and needs of New Yorkers who too frequently have been left out of our healthcare system."

"Too often immigrants and other medically under-served communities are not able to access insurance options because of cultural, socioeconomic and language barriers,” said Ann Bové RN, President New York State Nurses Association HHC Executive Council. “NYSNA supports Access Health NYC because it can help to improve access to information and care for thousands of NYers and their families, and thus, to address unmet health needs.”

"It is imperative that people with disabilities learn about access to health care and what is actually available to them," said Joan Peters, Executive Director of the Brooklyn Center for Independence of the Disabled.  "People who are on the margins particularly need to know this information and the Access Health NYC Initiative is the best way to deliver the message in a culturally competent manner."

Council Member Corey Johnson, Chair of the Council’s Committee on Health Jackie Vimo, Director of Regional Advocacy, New York Immigration Coalition
Esther W. Y. Lok, Assistant Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public's Health System


“Thanks to Governor Cuomo's leadership, more than one million New Yorkers have enrolled via the health insurance marketplace, resulting in an uninsured rate of less than 6 percent for children,” said Lorraine Gonzalez, Director of Health Policy at the Children’s Defense Fund. “Now is the time for New York City and State to capitalize on this success and ensure hard-to-reach families have the support necessary for successful insurance enrollment, retention, and acquisition of health services.”

"Doctors working in New York City's public hospital system – the City's safety net hospitals – serve the most at-risk and vulnerable New Yorkers. Often these patients come to our hospitals already quite sick. The frontline doctors have a pulse on the communities we serve and we know that access to information about comprehensive insurance coverage, as well as timely primary and preventive care, will lower health care costs and improve health outcomes for our patients," said Dr. Matthews Hurley, First Vice-President, Doctors Council SEIU. "While the Affordable Care Act extends healthcare to millions of people, many New Yorkers can benefit from better healthcare access and information. In order to improve health outcomes, we encourage a collaborative approach that includes frontline healthcare workers, communities and local organizations working together. “

“DC 37 supports the efforts to increase access and information about health care to all New Yorkers. With numerous health care issues arising every day about emergent situations as well as everyday primary care information, it is critical to have many pathways to reach out to the public,” said Barbara Edmonds, Field Operations Director, District Council 37.

"Many people still are having problems accessing health care, regardless of whether or not they have an insurance card,”  Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public's Health System.  “The People's Budget Coalition calls on our city council to support the need for much more community-driven public education and outreach efforts.  Strong support for community-based organizations is a must.  This support is even more critical for those organizations that are working every day with hard-to-reach communities, who have suffered from inequities in coverage and care for too long. “

"Despite efforts to increase access to health care services in NYC, disparities persist in low-income and immigrants communities, as well as for people with disabilities. To become a city of equal opportunity, New York City must ensure all New Yorkers have access to health care. Opportunities to access preventive, screening and early treatment of chronic illness will not only increase an individual’s ability to maintain family and work responsibilities, it would also reduce high utilization of expensive emergency care facilities.  We urge the Mayor and the City Council to fund Access Health NYC to reduce the number of people who are disconnected from health care services,” stated Esther W. Y. Lok, Assistant Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research at the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies.

“Research shows that that people who remain uninsured want health insurance, but don’t think they can afford it.  People with disabilities have a poverty rate that is twice as high as the poverty rate for people without disabilities.  We need the resources to do additional outreach to people with disabilities and other disproportionately low income populations who still do not know about available health insurance options or that there is financial help to lower premium costs and in-person assistance to help them complete the enrollment process,” said Heidi Siegfried, Health Policy Director at Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY.

“Many immigrants were left out of federal health reform, and others are confused about whether or not they are eligible for care or about how to navigate existing resources. Health care reform is complicated to understand for everyone, but immigrants face additional cultural and language barriers to accessing information and care,” saidJackie Vimo, Director of Regional Advocacy for the New York Immigration Coalition, a Coalition of over 150 organizations that work with immigrants across New York State. “The city of New York must step up to fill in the gaps left by federal health reform.  In New York City, regardless of immigration status, all residents can access free or low-cost care, but many immigrants do not know about these services. Community-based organizations (CBOs) are the key to getting the word out to immigrants and other underserved populations. CBOs can speak to immigrants in languages they understand and in a vocabulary that shares their cultural values.  By funding ACCESS Health NYC, the City Council will build upon one of the greatest resources the city has – our communities – to work towards a healthier NYC.” 


PBC Organization Members  –  Arab-American Family Support Center, Brooklyn Perinatal Network,  CAMBA, Bronx Health Link, Center for Independence of the Disabled, NY, Children’s Defense Fund-New York, Choices in Childbirth, Citizens’ Committee for Children, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Commission on the Public’s Health System, District Council 37, Doctor’s Council SEIU, Federation of County Networks, Inc, Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies, Fort Greene SNAP, Gay Men’s Health Crisis, Greater Brooklyn Healthcare Coalition, Healthy People, Housing Works, Manhattan Borough President’s Disability Task Force; Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign, Manhattan-Staten Island AHEC, New York Immigration Coalition, New York State Nurses Association, Spanish Speaking Elderly Council- RAICES, Village Care



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