A proposal that would extend subsidized health care coverage in New York to people regardless of their immigration status has drawn skepticism from Gov. Kathy Hochul over its cost.
Advocates are mounting an effort to get her to reconsider.
The measure, which would use an untapped pot of money from the federal government, could be considered for final passage in the state Assembly when lawmakers reconvene for two days next week.
But even if the bill passes, Hochul has questions. This week, she pointed to cost concerns over what amounts to finite funds.
"It's not just saying that $2 billion will be there forever, because it won't be," she said. "If the federal government wishes to give us more to compliment that, supplement that, give us $13 billion, that makes it a lot easier on the state. But I have to look at everthing holisitically and the impact on our state finances before I make a decision."
Advocates for the measure, known as Coverage for All, responded with dismay while also touting the projections it could save $500 million in emergency Medicaid funds.
Hochul had previously asked the Biden administration if money could be used for the purpose of extending health care coverage.
"Now that the federal government has confirmed what advocates have said all along — that the federal funds can be used for this purpose — she is trying to again move the goalposts with made-up numbers about imaginary long-term costs," the Coverage for All Coalition said in a statement. “The Coverage for All bill, which passed the Senate last week, has already been amended to address concerns and ensure there is no cost to the state."
In a join statement, the Task Force on New Americans and Asian American Pacific Islander Task Force urged the Assembly to act as well. The groups pointed to the lives lost in the three years of the COVID-19 pandemic and the health care impact on low-income immigrants.
"We can never get back the lives we lost," the groups said. "But we can make sure that New York continues to be a leader for immigrant justice and provides coverage to undocumented New Yorkers, getting us closer to truly universal healthcare."