Thursday, 24 January, 2019

New York City launches $100 million universal health insurance program

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx borough of New York City New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during a news conference at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx borough of New York City
Anna Jefferson | 10 January, 2019, 22:14

New York City will soon guarantee comprehensive health care to every resident, regardless of their ability to pay.

The new NYC Care plan, which de Blasio said will be funded without tax increases, is an expansion of the city's existing MetroPlus plan covering hospital bills for low-income residents.

Under NYC Care, as the city's program is being called, uninsured New Yorkers will be able to call a central phone number to get an insurance card and be assigned a doctor, giving them access to primary care and an array of specialty services, the mayor said.

But de Blasio stated that NYC Care will cut down on overall health care expenditure by covering those New Yorkers who can not afford health insurance and often end up in the emergency room.

NYC Care will launch in the summer of 2019 and cost at least $100 million annually at full scale.

Healthcare-for-all provides coverage for all, reduces the burden on small businesses to offer and pay for health coverage, addresses the business myth that it's cost prohibitive to hire certain workers because their health coverage is too expensive. "It's being treated in a language you can understand by people who actually care about your health and well-being".

New York City's bold new healthcare program will be the biggest and most comprehensive health coverage program in the country.

Correct. NYC already has a public option. Patients will be matched with a primary care physician and guaranteed an appointment within a week or two.

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Half of that group can't get health insurance due to their immigration status, de Blasio said, while the remainder includes young people who don't think they need coverage and people who find the Affordable Care Act exchanges unaffordable or hard to navigate.

Health care, De Blasio announced, is now a "right" for anyone who gets sick in NYC.

Proponents of a nationwide Medicare for All system were quick to applaud de Blasio's plan as a major victory for health justice and a significant step toward the establishment of a statewide single-payer system in NY.

The surprise announcement was met with support, but also questions from Brooklyn elected officials including Borough President Eric Adams and Flatbush Councilmember Jumaane Williams. For there really isn't any magic wand to be waved over what health care does cost.

Wait times to see a primary care doctor would be in line with the one to two weeks it now takes, officials said.

De Blasio added, "Republicans in Washington are trying to tear down health care". "For 600,000 New Yorkers without any kind of insurance, mental healthcare remains out of reach [but this changes that]", she said. "Let's say they're having an after-hours issue and need understanding about where to get a prescription filled. The city has 4.5 million workers, public and private, this will affect half a million people".

The mayor promised that no tax increases are needed to fund the program; the $100 million will come from the city's existing budget, now about $90 billion.

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