State Senator Gustavo Rivera, who serves as the Ranking Member of the New York State Senate Health Committee, introduced S8618, which would expand the Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) by extending the age that immigrant young adults are eligible for coverage to 29 years old. The introduction of this bill comes as New York faces relentless attacks by the Trump Administration and the Republicans in Congress which will decrease its residents' access to healthcare and make life for the immigrants who call New York home even harder. On Monday, May 7, Trump called on Congress to cut spending on CHIP by several billion dollars, specifically targeting the Child Enrollment Contingency Fund, which ensures states have funds to cover higher than average enrollment. Despite efforts from the federal government to cripple access to healthcare, New York State continues to have the lowest uninsured rate in the nation. This bill would make that rate even lower by expanding access to ensure young immigrants continue to have access to healthcare as they move into adulthood. Additionally, this measure is also in line with New York State's goal of reducing overall health care costs. It would cost the state approximately $81 million a year, which would be substantially less than the financial burden the State would incur if these New Yorkers wait to seek care in an emergency setting rather than accessing primary and preventive care. Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, who serves as the Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, sponsors this bill (A8054A) in the Assembly.
"As our right to health and affordable care is under attack at the Federal level, I am proud to be the Senate sponsor of the Children's Health Insurance Program Expansion bill," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "Healthcare should be a right and not a privilege for every New Yorker and every American, and that includes extending coverage to include immigrants. CHIP provides coverage for children and also helps young people just graduating high school and navigating their education, job search, and other opportunities and challenges to not worry about their health insurance coverage. It is irresponsible to restrict access to care for young adults and put their health in jeopardy simply because of their immigration status."
We can only say to Senator Rivera that we have heard from parents who wanted to know why their children were not covered up to the age of 29 in the past.
There was a program set up by the Bloomberg administration that gave incentives to schools for signing children into the CHIP program.
Perhaps Senator Rivera should not only look to pass legislation, but how to get the benefits of said legislation to those who need.