"I'm hopeful that they will keep talking," said Trilby de Jung, senior health law attorney at Empire Justice, an organization that works to improve the lives of low-income New Yorkers.
"These are all the folks who are enrolled in Medicaid or Family Health Plus, so it's the people who are unemployed, it's the working poor, it's our clients," said Jung.
De Jung says she is worried about her clients after the recent announcement that Excellus BlueCross BlueShield would be withdrawing from the Medicaid Managed Care and Family Health Plus programs.
"There is going to be over 200,000 people that have to change their coverage if Excellus pulls out. I think it's 25 different counties," said de Jung.
Jim Redmond, a spokesperson for the company, says it's incurring losses around $100 million in 2013 and expects those numbers to increase in 2014. He said the company has had several meetings with the state to see if the losses could be addressed by changes in state reinbursements but he said:
"We value the State as a partner but we have been informed that changes that would meaningfully reduce these losses are not forthcoming."
"What I'm hoping is that the state will continue to talk with Excellus, and we've got some hard questions to ask Excellus about whether they can dip into reserves and what they are willing to do to avoid this loss as well as the state. You know, can they be creative? Can they offer something that changes the picture for Excellus so they don't have to sustain these kind of losses?" asked de Jung.
The decision by Excellus means customers enrolled in the Medicaid Managed Care and Family Health Plus programs will have to chose a new insurance provider.
Patrick Glavey of MVP Health Care says the company was surprised to hear the news, but he says they will work with customers to ensure a smooth transition if they choose MVP.
"Obviously, it's upsetting when your carrier leaves the program, but they are not going to be left without options, so they are going to have options; not just MVP but other carriers and the state will ensure a smooth transition of this membership so they are not gong to have to worry about losing their coverage," said Glavey.
Excellus says the decision to withdraw will not affect Child Health Plus or Medicare products, but de Jong says its not time for customers to give up just yet.
"We're hoping that this can be averted," said de Jong.