CRREO Hosts Open Session On NYS Healthcare

Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.
Photo by Robin Weinstein.

The Center for Research Regional Education and Outreach (CRREO) at SUNY New Paltz hosted an open information session last week on “NY State of Health” relating to cost savings and financial assistance enrollment as a gateway to affordable healthcare.

CRREO works to foster community collaboration among environmentalists, advocates of development and key government decision makers on regional economic, social and environmental issues, according to their website.

Assistant Director of CRREO at SUNY New Paltz Janis Benincasa said the Nov. 7 event was successful despite a small turnout of 10 people, eight of whom were small business owners in New Paltz.

The session provided information on navigating the NYS of Health website and brought up questions about the difference between individual and small business enrollment, Benincasa said.

Self-employed people enroll as individuals, she said. However, each of the business owners present were considered “S Corporations,” meaning their income fluctuates from month to month.

“The NYS of Health website, however, asks for the prior three months income only, posing a problem for small business owners,” Benincasa said. “The health navigators who were present [at the event] said that the state considers this aspect of enrollment fluid and that they would contact the state to get answers to these questions.”

According to a CRREO press release, in less than one week after the New York State Health Plan website launched on Oct. 1, 2013, more 40,000 New Yorkers signed up for “quality, low-cost health insurance” on the exchange.

However, the State Health Reform Assistance Network estimates that more than 137,000 people are uninsured in the five-county Mid-Hudson Region including 21,000 children ages 0-18 and 116,000 adults aged 19-64.

The New Paltz information session, presented by the Maternal-Infant Services Network (MISN), a local not-for-profit funded to provide Health Exchange Navigator services in Dutchess, Orange, Putnam, Sullivan, and Ulster Counties, addressed these issues.

Caren Fairweather, the executive director of MISN, the Lead Agency for the State-funded health insurance programs, said more of a focus on student health care would be beneficial.

“We would love to return to offer an information session for students, especially those who do not have health insurance covered through their parents’ plan,” Fairweather said.

Fairweather said letting students know their healthcare options would be an event she would like to come back to SUNY New Paltz for. However, Fairweather agreed with Benincasa about the success of last week’s event.

“The people who attended had many great questions,” Fairweather said. “Most of them were self-employed and wanted to learn how they could benefit from getting their health insurance through the NYS of Health Marketplace.”