The number of New York residents without health care insurance has declined in the last decade, with nearly all having some sort of coverage. But now a consortium of insurers is calling for coverage for a segment of the population yet to be reached: undocumented immigrants living in New York.

The New York State Conference of Blue Cross and Blue Shield Plans on Wednesday backed the effort to extend coverage to undocumented people living in New York, saying the move would make a significant step toward universal health care in the state.

"We strongly encourage Governor Hochul to build on our historic efforts by expanding eligibility to this group, who are unable to secure other publicly-supported coverage," the conference said in a statement. "This step, combined with her other proposals, would result in a true New York Dream – affordable, universal health coverage for all New Yorkers."

New York's remaining uninsured rate stands at about 4.7% of the total population in the state, a decade after the Affordable Care Act expanded Medicaid eligibility and created health insurance marketplaces for people to purchase individual insurance plans.

Hocul on Wednesday outlined her priorities for the new year in her State of the State address, calling for a $10 billion package meant to recruit and retain health care workers in New York, a plan that includes bonsues for full-time workers as well as other pay incentives.

At the same time, Hochul wants to expand coverage for telehealth services, which have become more common during the pandemic. She also wants a Medicaid Innovation Center with the goal of lowering costs.

But the conference, which is composed of Blue Cross insurers in Rochester, western New York and New York City, said more could be done to expand coverage, such as addressing prescription drug pricing.

"To make health care more affordable and accessible, she should address what is truly driving increases in drug costs: drug company profits and absence of pricing transparency," the insurers said.