Major health care, business and labor unions in New York are making a final push for the state Assembly to advance a measure that would use untapped federal funds to expand health care coverage to include residents without legal status who are living in the state.
The measure was approved in the state Senate in the waning days of the legislative session, but is yet to be taken up in the Assembly.
Speaker Carl Heastie indicated over the weekend lawmakers in his chamber would return in the near future to take up unfinished work. Advocates hope the coverage expansion will be on the table.
The measure would allow for the use of so-called federal "pass through" money to cover people regardless of their immigration status. Federal officials previously approved the use of the money last week.
A letter to Heastie signed by a range of organizations — including the Business Council of New York State, the New York Working Families Party, the Greater New York Hospital Association and 1199 SEIU — urged the speaker to take up the bill in the coming weeks.
"Ensuring that everyone has health insurance is good for all New Yorkers – regardless of their immigration status – and expanding coverage would help to support financially stressed providers as the costs related to uncompensated care places a burden on our safety net hospitals," they wrote.
Assemblymember Jessica González-Rojas, the bill's sponsor in the chamber, called the bill a "must pass" measure.
"I look forward to working with Speaker Heastie and our colleagues to bring it to a vote at the next possible opportunity,” she said.
Republicans, meanwhile, have been opposed to the expansion.
"The people coming in don't live here, they aren't citizens," Senate Minority Leader Robert Ortt said, "and the people who are here are going in the other direction."