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Clinton, King Spearhead Effort to Help State's Uninsured Working Families

Location: Washington, DC

Clinton, King Spearhead Effort to Help State's Uninsured Working Families

Bi-partisan Congressional Delegation Calls on Federal Government to Allow State's Health Insurance Facilitated Enrollment Program to Continue

In an effort to help the state's uninsured, a unified New York Congressional Delegation is calling on the Federal Government to allow the State to continue its long running program that helps working families obtain health insurance.

Lead by Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton and Representative Peter King, the members of the delegation are calling on the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services to approve a critical provision in New York State's pending federal Medicaid waiver that allows for the operation of its "facilitated enrollment" program, which helps working families to access health insurance. The "facilitated enrollment" program helps the State connect with New Yorkers who might be eligible for health insurance, providing a critical point of entry for thousands of individuals and their families into the public health insurance system. However, the program can only continue to operate if the State is granted permission through the pending Medicaid waiver.

"Thousands of New York's working families are eligible for public health insurance coverage, yet many don't know that they can apply and don't know how to access the system. The facilitated enrollment program reaches families in their schools, churches, and community centers and is critically important in rural parts of the state where access would otherwise be hours and miles away. New York's facilitated enrollment program is a model for the country on how to get people insured. I hope the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services hear our united, bi-partisan call to keep this program going," Senator Clinton said.

"The continuation of facilitated enrollment is critical to New York's Medicaid, Family Health Plus and Child Health Plus programs. I urge CMS to approve New York State's waiver request," said Congressman Peter King (Seaford).

[A copy of the delegation letter is attached]

Congress of the United States
Washington, DC 20510

February 8, 2006

The Honorable Mark McClellan, M.D., Ph.D.
Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services
Mail Stop C5-11024
7500 Security Boulevard
Baltimore, MD 21244-1850

Dear Dr. McClellan:

As members of the New York delegation, we urge you to preserve the facilitated enrollment program by approving New York State's requested exemption to the 1997 Balanced Budget Act enrollment broker provision. This request was submitted to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services in November 2005 as part of New York State's 1115 waiver extension application.

The facilitated enrollment program is a critical point of entry for hundreds of thousands of hard-working, low-income New Yorkers and their families to the public health insurance system. Without this program, invaluable services conducted by health plans and heath care providers will be jeopardized, scores of New Yorkers who have public health insurance will be in danger of losing it, and thousands more who qualify could have significant trouble obtaining it.

Facilitated enrollers help New York State determine eligibility for public health insurance by collecting necessary documents, conducting mandated face-to-face interviews, and calculating income eligibility. They make it possible for children and parents to apply for public health insurance coverage at a single location where they can also seek assistance in renewing their eligibility.

Located where the uninsured live and work, facilitated enrollment sites are easy for New York residents to access across the state. They are found in local clinics, schools, churches and community centers and are open on evenings and weekends. This accessibility is particularly important in more rural parts of New York where residents may be many miles from the closest welfare or Medicaid offices to which they would otherwise have to go to apply for public health insurance.

By reaching the uninsured in rural and urban areas, the facilitated enrollment program has helped create a more effective health insurance system for working individuals and their families in New York. Statewide, over 50% of Medicaid and Family Health Plus, and 100% of Child Health Plus, applications are completed at facilitated enrollment sites. As a result, the number of uninsured children in New York has dropped from 729,000 to 469,000 in just six years. Today, nearly 1.5 million low-income adults in New York are receiving the health care they need to stay healthy and working.

In addition, the private sector in New York employs approximately 2,000 facilitated enrollers and many more workers in positions like data management and quality assurance that are necessary to support the work of facilitated enrollers. These are critical jobs in our local communities and across the state.

We must preserve New York's facilitated enrollment program. We appreciate your consideration of our views and urge you to allow New York to continue its facilitated enrollment program.

Sincerely yours,

Charles E. Schumer, United States Senate
Hillary Rodham Clinton, United States Senate
Peter T. King, United States House of Representatives
Representative Charles B. Rangel
Representative Gary L. Ackerman
Representative Sherwood L. Boehlert
Representative Major R. Owens
Representative Edolphus Towns
Representative Louise McIntosh Slaughter
Representative Eliot Engel
Representative Nita M. Lowey
Representative Michael R. McNulty
Representative José E. Serrano
Representative James T. Walsh
Representative Maurice Hinchey
Representative Carolyn Maloney
Representative John McHugh
Representative Jerrold Nadler
Representative Nydia M. Velásquez
Representative Sue W. Kelly
Representative Carolyn McCarthy
Representative Gregory W. Meeks
Representative Vito Fossella
Representative Joseph Crowley
Representative Thomas Reynolds
Representative John E. Sweeney
Representative Anthony Weiner
Representative Steve J. Israel
Representative Tim Bishop
Representative Brian M. Higgins
Representative Randy Kuhl

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