|STATE OF NEW YORK
GEORGE E. PATAKI, GOVERNOR
June 25, 2003
GOVERNOR, U.S. TREASURY UNVEIL NEW HEALTH INSURANCE INITIATIVE
Will Provide NYs Displaced Workers Access To Quality Health Insurance Coverage
Governor George E. Pataki and United States Secretary of the Treasury John W. Snow today announced a new initiative that will offer affordable quality health insurance coverage to eligible New Yorkers whose employment has been displaced due to changes in foreign trade or whose pensions have been taken over by the Pension Benefit Guarantee Corporation (PBGC). Eligible New Yorkers will be given access to the Healthy NY benefits package along with a 65% federal Health Coverage Tax Credit to assist them in paying the premium.
"This is great news for qualifying former Bethlehem Steel, Alcoa, Ethan Allen, Nestle, Oneida Limited, UNITE union workers, and other hard working men and women of New York who have been displaced by changes in foreign trade and eligible retirees in need of affordable health insurance coverage," Governor Pataki said. "The State of New York is committed to quality health care for all of its residents. This initiative will provide these individuals with an option of having comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage for themselves and their families."
"Every American deserves to have good health care," said Secretary Snow. "A lot of folks in steel and other important industries have helped build this country, to make it as strong as it is. The federal Health Coverage Tax Credit is one way we can give back to them. Its a bold step in the direction of affordable health care for all Americans. New Yorks leaders are on the forefront of health care policy innovation, and New Yorkers, especially those who need some extra help right now, are going to be the beneficiaries."
New Yorkers receiving Trade Adjustment Assistance (TAA) benefits or PBGC pension benefit payments will qualify for the 65% federal health coverage tax credit (HCTC). The federal tax credit can be applied towards the purchase of qualifying health insurance. New York now has two health insurance products that qualify for the credit, Healthy NY and HCTC Healthy NY.
"Through regulatory changes that qualify the Healthy NY program for this federal tax credit, even more New Yorkers will now have access to Healthy NYs comprehensive streamlined benefit package," said Superintendent of Insurance Gregory V. Serio. "Under Governor Patakis leadership and through the cooperation of New Yorks health plans, those eligible will now qualify for the federal tax credit while receiving comprehensive health benefits."
State Labor Commissioner Linda Angello said, "Governor Pataki and I believe in protecting the integrity of New York States workforce, and this new health coverage initiative will help ensure that hundreds of New Yorks families are taken care of during often stressful and difficult times."
Healthy NY is a state funded health insurance program available to uninsured individuals meeting certain income and eligibility requirements. Healthy NY can be purchased from any HMO in the State. Those who do not qualify for the state funded Healthy NY program can apply their federal tax credit towards purchasing HCTC Healthy NY. HCTC Healthy NY is currently available in 39 Upstate counties through Excellus Health Plan and will soon be available in Western New York through Independent Health and statewide through Group Health Incorporated (GHI). GHI will begin accepting applications in July.
The Health Coverage Tax Credit was created by the Federal Trade Adjustment Assistance Reform Act of 2002 (TAA). Because this federal tax credit is fully refundable, it may be claimed even if no federal income tax is owed. Eligible New Yorkers can get this assistance in two ways. The credit can be claimed on their federal tax forms in a lump sum next year on April 15th and beginning on August 1, the Health Coverage Tax Credit program will allow these individuals and their families to directly apply the credit to their health insurance premiums every month. This advance payment option could make a big difference for families that are just getting by month-to-month or week-to-week. Potentially eligible individuals will receive HCTC enrollment kits by mail shortly.
More information on the Healthy NY is available at www.HealthyNY.com or the Healthy NY hotline at 1-866-Healthy NY. Additionally, the NYS Department of Insurance consumer hotline can be reached at 1-800-342-3736. More information about the federal tax credit can be obtained by visiting www.irs.gov (IRS keyword HCTC) or toll-free at 1-866-628-HCTC (1-866-628-4282).