Photo Courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office
“Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it,” Mayor de Blasio said.
By Forum Staff
The City will launch “the largest, most comprehensive plan in the nation” to guarantee health care for every New Yorker—with an estimated $100 million annual price tag, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Tuesday.
The policy, according to Hizzoner, will serve the 600,000 residents without insurance by strengthening NYC’s public health insurance option, MetroPlus, and guaranteeing anyone ineligible for insurance – including undocumented New Yorkers – has direct access to NYC Health + Hospitals’ physicians, pharmacies and mental health and substance abuse services through a new program called NYC Care. All services will be affordable on a sliding scale, de Blasio indicated. The programs will include customer-friendly call lines to help New Yorkers – regardless of their insurance – make appointments with general practitioners, cardiologists, pediatricians, gynecologists and a full spectrum of health care services.
Approximately 8 million New Yorkers have health insurance, and the uninsured rate is nearly half of what it was in 2013. De Blasio credited the Affordable Care Act with those two accomplishments. The mayor also noted that in the last two years, the City Public Engagement Unit coordinated signing up more than 130,000 New Yorkers for plans through the exchanges created by the law. However, about 600,000 New Yorkers remain without insurance, because they do not or cannot enroll. The City aims to better connect people to more effective and affordable health care in one of two ways:
• NYC Care: The City has pledged to connect hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are ineligible for health insurance – including undocumented New Yorkers and those who cannot afford insurance – to reliable care. Anyone will be able to access care across NYC Health + Hospitals’ more than 70+ locations, once the program is fully ramped up. NYC Care is open to anyone who does not have an affordable insurance option and will be priced on a sliding scale, to ensure affordability. NYC Care will provide a primary care doctor and will provide access to specialty care, prescription drugs, mental health services, hospitalization, and more, de Blasio noted on Tuesday.
• NYC’s Public Option: The City will double down on efforts to boost enrollment in MetroPlus, its public option. MetroPlus provides free or affordable health insurance that connects insurance-eligible New Yorkers to a network of providers that includes NYC Health + Hospitals’ 11 hospitals and 70 clinics. MetroPlus serves as an affordable option for people on Medicaid, Medicare, and those purchasing insurance on the exchange. The City is committed to strengthening MetroPlus and connecting more independent workers, City vendors and City workers to that option. It also will improve the quality of the MetroPlus customer experience through improved access to clinical care, mental health services, and wellness rewards for healthy behavior.
“Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it,” de Blasio added.
NYC Care will launch in summer 2019 and will roll out geographically, starting in the Bronx. It will be fully available to all New Yorkers across the five boroughs in 2021. The program will cost at least $100 million annually at full scale.