Expanding Health Care Coverage

Project Title

Informing Health Care Reform Policy Options for New York State

Grant Amount


Priority Area

Expanding Health Care Coverage

Date Awarded

July 1, 2007


Finger Lakes






Approximately 2.5 million New Yorkers lacked health insurance in 2007, according to estimates from the United Hospital Fund, a New York health policy center.

During this time, incremental reforms had been established and momentum was building for more comprehensive reform. To gather and analyze the perspectives of employers and residents on this issue, Cornell University’s Department of Policy Analysis and Management conducted focus groups in upstate New York and administered a survey across the State, eliciting opinions from those who have no prior knowledge of specific reform proposals. Cornell University also conducted an opinion poll of a representative sample of New Yorkers to evaluate their knowledge of, and views on, possible options for increasing coverage.

This project was part of a larger NYHealth Coverage Consortium that funded 10 grants to seven universities, policy institutes, and community agencies across the State, supporting projects that could inform State health reform efforts, offer ways to streamline enrollment in public programs, significantly reduce costs and improve quality, and test ideas for expanding coverage among small employers, sole proprietors, and self-employed people.

Read an NYHealth special report that contains a summary of findings from this consortium.

Cornell University’s project team will obtain public opinion feedback on various proposals for reform to help gauge what is most popular with New York State residents.

The United Hospital Fund (UHF) and Commonwealth Fund developed a “Blueprint” proposal to expand coverage in New York State. Additionally, New York State Assembly Representative Richard Gottfried plans to examine various approaches to universal coverage in New York State. Cornell University will partner with Columbia University to develop alternative strategies for expanding coverage in the State and to identify the unique characteristics of New York’s health system that could affect the success of any reform proposal.

The Cornell project team will gather public opinion data through focus groups with residents from upstate New York and a survey of residents from across the State. The Columbia University project team will run several parallel focus group efforts in downstate New York. These focus groups will elicit opinions from residents who have no prior knowledge of specific reform proposals and would include both uninsured residents and residents insured through employer-sponsored programs, individually purchased coverage, and Medicare or Medicaid. Cornell will also conduct an opinion poll of a representative sample of New Yorkers to evaluate their knowledge of, and views on, possible options for increasing coverage. Both the focus group and public opinion data will be used as the “public input” necessary for designing reasonable reform options.

In the first phase of this project, the Cornell project team will collaborate with Columbia University to identify potential coverage options for New York State and develop the survey questions to be asked as part of the ongoing Cornell University Empire Poll. In the second phase of the project, Cornell will provide preliminary data from the surveys and focus groups. The Cornell project team will also provide consultation to Columbia University in the development of preliminary forecasts to assess cost and coverage implications of these proposals. In the third phase of the project, Cornell will work with Columbia researchers to identify key New York State-specific issues not addressed in standard models. Based on the findings, Columbia researchers would then commission a series of papers to explore these issues. Cornell will develop final reports of the survey and focus group data analysis. In the fourth and final phase, Cornell will collaborate with Columbia University to host a conference among micro-simulation modelers and provide a basis for a further round of research to develop and estimate New York-specific models of alternative policy options.

This project is part of the NYS Health Coverage Consortium.

Read the report associated with this grant, “Improving Health Care Reform Options for New York State.”