Health Equity Requires Systemic Change
Our efforts to improve health outcomes will succeed only if all people have access to the quality, affordable health coverage they need and deserve. To achieve transformational change in health care, we must address the laws, regulations, and other systems that contribute—positively or negatively—to the health of the community.
That’s why the Health Foundation for Western & Central New York advocates for increased access to high-quality, affordable health care and supports policies that aim to make our health care systems fairer and more equitable.
Our Advocacy Strategies
- Defend existing programs that provide access to care
We monitor and respond to threats to existing programs, and support opportunities to strengthen them, so that all communities can access care.
- Improve the reach and affordability of existing programs that provide access to care, and support the development of policies that improve the health of everyone in the community.
We support measures that will expand the reach of existing programs, and improve outreach and enrollment to those who are eligible for coverage but are not insured.
- Continue to contribute to public education efforts related to increasing the access to and affordability of health care.
We partner with other health equity advocates to share information about ways to expand and improve coverage, so that more people understand how increased coverage for all can lead to a healthier, more just community.
Key Issues – 2024 and Beyond
Although we will continue to be responsive to the policy landscape and advocate for other issues when appropriate, the following issues are the Health Foundation’s advocacy priorities for 2024:
Build upon the policy change that allows income-eligible undocumented New Yorkers age 65 and over to enroll in Medicaid, so that all immigrants, regardless of age or immigration status, have access to insurance coverage.
Protect and build upon health care coverage gains achieved through the Inflation Reduction Act, including caps on pharmaceutical costs and expansion of Affordable Care Act tax credits for those purchasing health insurance on the Exchange. Everyone should have access to affordable medication regardless of insurance type.
Support health insurance navigators through increased funding and regulatory changes based on learnings from the Reaching the 5 Percent Outreach and Enrollment program, so that navigator programs have the resources and flexibility they need to effectively reach the eligible but uninsured.
Support additional measures to address medical debt, which disproportionately impacts people of color and older adults on fixed incomes.
Advocate for permanent telehealth payment parity, regardless of modality and patient/provider location.
Reinstate the expanded Child Tax Credit that ended at the close of 2021 and lowered childhood poverty by 40 percent.
Any advocate will tell you: achieving a ‘win’ and making policy or regulatory progress takes time, dedication, resources, and—most importantly—collaboration. The Health Foundation has proudly partnered on advocacy work that has achieved the following:
Improved coverage for maternal supports
The Health Foundation supported expansion of postpartum Medicaid coverage from 60 days to a year, making doula services reimbursable statewide and increasing reimbursements for midwives. And in 2024, the state plans to reimburse for the services of community health workers providing prenatal supports.
Addressing the medical debt crisis
Legislative wins include preventing wage garnishment and liens on primary residences, prohibiting medical debt from being included in a consumer report, and requiring all hospitals to use a unified financial assistance form provided by the State Department of Health.
Multisector collaboration to increase coverage
When the federal public health emergency for COVID-19 ended in 2023, states across the country faced the prospect of millions of Americans being disenrolled from public health coverage. New York is the only state with a multisector approach to the Medicaid public health emergency unwinding that includes philanthropy—an approach that builds on the Health Foundation’s previous work to get people covered.
The Health Foundation has supported several federal-level victories, including capping what Medicare enrollees will pay for insulin costs, and enabling Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services to negotiate prescription drug prices.