State Senator Gustavo Rivera, chair of the Senate Health Committee, and Assembly Member Jessica Gonzalez-Rojas, sponsor a bill (S2237/A3020) to provide health care services under the state’s basic Essential Plan to migrants lacking legal status with household incomes below 250% of the federal poverty line. 

A version of the bill almost passed last year.

“I believe that health care is a human right. And that means that regardless of your wealth, or your immigration status, you’re still a human being. You’re still going to get sick and you will still require care,” Rivera told Capital Tonight.

There are an estimated 245,000 migrants without legal status in the state who may end up in an emergency room if they don’t have health insurance.

“The State of New York uses about $500 million dollars in emergency Medicaid just to take care of the needs of those particular individuals,” Rivera said.

If immigrant New Yorkers had access to primary care, Rivera argues, the chronic conditions they might suffer from could be identified sooner, and cost the state less money to treat.

“Coverage 4 All (the name advocates have dubbed the bill) is something that would take those 245,000 folks and extend to them the Essential Plan in the State of New York, therefore giving them a level of insurance they don’t have right now,” he said.

According to the campaign Health Care for All New York (HCFANY), the federally funded Essential Plan currently covers over 1.1 million New Yorkers.

Coverage for New York migrants without legal status could be enacted through the Federal Section 1332 waiver by enacting A3020/S2237.

In absence of a waiver, the same population would be covered through state-funded Medicaid. Rivera is also part of the “Invest in Our New York” coalition, which is urging state leaders to raise a variety of taxes on the wealthiest New Yorkers. Rivera and Assembly Member Ron Kim have proposed a bill to tax capital gains (S2162/A2576).

Find more about that here.