A Ground-breaking Coalition for Accessible, Affordable Health Coverage
New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage (NYFAHC) is a statewide coalition of 53 voluntary health organizations and allied groups who serve and represent people with chronic illnesses and disabilities, including cancer, HIV/AIDS, cognitive impairments, multiple sclerosis and epilepsy. NYFAHC is a project of Center for the Independence of the Disabled, NY.
What does NYFAHC do?
NYFAHC scrutinizes every proposed and passed action for its impact on people’s ability to get or keep health insurance, and is particularly alert to barriers to coverage for people with higher than average health care needs. NYFAHC produces authoritative, high quality policy briefs and fact sheets that give public officials, policy makers and consumers alike accurate and timely information on health coverage issues. To protect consumers, NYFAHC monitors and analyzes bills and regulations introduced at the state level; educates lawmakers, Executive branch staff and regulators on the potential effects of proposed bills and actions on people with serious illnesses and disabilities; collects anecdotes about the impact of specific actions on the lives of consumers and relates these stories to legislators, regulators and policy makers; and advocates for or against specific bills and actions at state level.
NYFAHC monthly Roundtable meetings provide participating groups and CIDNY staff with a regular forum for dialogue, learning and planning. NYFAHC also works to empower consumers to become their own advocates in the legislative arena. NYFAHC’s success as an advocate has as much to do with its health policy and legal expertise as it does with being in touch with consumers. NYFAHC’s direct connections to consumers with high medical needs enable it to parlay their experiences and problems with health coverage into powerful advocacy that is informed by the real impact of policy on people’s lives.
CIDNY’s NYFAHC coalition conducts public information campaigns to alert and inform consumers, policy makers and the media about problems, trends and reforms in the health insurance marketplace that affect people with serious illnesses and disabilities. NYFAHC regularly produces an advocacy newsletter, NYFAHC NEWS.
What legislative victories has NYFAHC won?
The NYFAHC coalition housed at CIDNY was born in 1991 when representatives of organizations serving people with serious illnesses and disabilities joined together to oppose a major insurer’s plan to drastically increase the premiums it charged to policyholders with high medical needs. That early advocacy effort resulted in the passage of legislation preventing insurers from discriminating due to health status, age, sex and employment status. While such successes have helped improve insurance options for all New Yorkers, they have had special resonance for CIDNY and NYFAHC’s constituents, which include people of all ages who are living with serious health conditions like cancers, HIV/AIDS, diabetes, mental illness, multiple sclerosis, hemophilia, and sickle cell anemia.
* NYFAHC is leading efforts to provide prescription drug coverage to people with disabilities through the EPIC program.
* NYFAHC has advocated for and obtained benefits such as access to appropriate specialty care and clinical trial treatments in public and private managed care plans and inclusion of hospice coverage in new public programs.
* NYFAHC is seeking conversion legislation following the NYFAHC/Consumer’s Union Statement of Principles that allows open conversion process with public hearings, Attorney General oversight, and court approval. Such legislation should ensure that the value of the charitable assets is preserved in foundations that carry on the mission of converting non-profit insurers and are responsive to the needs and wishes of those needing coverage.
* NYFAHC has since worked to preserve and strengthen the individual and small group health insurance markets. To this end, NYFAHC has obtained tens of millions of dollars in subsidies for the individual insurance market in recent years, helping to moderate premiums for people with serious illnesses and disabilities who must, because they have no employer-based coverage, buy their own.
* NYFAHC has advocated for and obtained great flexibility in enrollment in public programs to ensure that seriously ill and disabled consumers do not lose critical access to coverage due to administrative barriers.
Each year NYFAHC develops a legislative agenda that reflects the advocacy priorities of our coalition members.