NY: Most Long Islanders with public health insurance renew coverage

Nearly three quarters of Long Islanders met a June deadline to renew public health insurance policies such as Medicaid, avoiding a potential lapse in coverage as officials look to unwind a pandemic-era continuous enrollment policy.

Seventy percent of Medicaid and Essential Plan enrollees on Long Island and 75% of Child Health Plus police holders renewed their coverage by June 30, according to data released Tuesday by the New York State Department of Health. Statewide, 72% of residents in the three plans renewed their coverage on time. Officials expect the rate to go up.

Medicaid and the Essential Plan provide health insurance for many to many of the state’s low-income adults. Child Health Plus is geared to children in low-income households.

Those who missed their deadline may still apply because New York allows late renewals, state officials say. People who have not renewed their coverage could have gone on employer-sponsored insurance, for example.

More than 9 million people are enrolled in the three programs. During much of the COVID-19 pandemic, enrollees did not have to renew their health insurance under the federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act, emergency legislation passed in 2020 by Congress. A later federal law ended continuous enrollment.

Since the spring, the state Department of Health has sent out renewal notices to enrollees in a grouping that faced the June 30 deadline. The state will continue to send notices until the eligibility in other groupings is determined, the state said.

“This is a crucial time for public health in New York. With redetermination officially underway, enrollees are taking action to avoid gaps in their health insurance,” said Amir Bassiri, director of the New York State Medicaid Program in a statement.

While state officials touted the recent numbers, some Long Island health professionals say the percentage of people who have not yet signed up is also concerning.

Jeffrey Reynolds, president and CEO of Garden City-based Family and Children’s Association, a nonprofit that provides services such as family support and addiction recovery, said the numbers are particularly concerning on Long Island because the area faces an opioid crisis and a well-documented mental health crisis in children.

“And so, any loss of Medicaid eligibility translates into, at the very least, missed opportunities,” he said.

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