New York Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday announced a plan to provide health care for all New Yorkers, including those who cannot qualify for health insurance such as undocumented immigrants.
The initiative, dubbed NYC Care, will guarantee physical and mental health care for all 8.6 million people living in New York, de Blasio said at a press conference Tuesday at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx.
“No one should have to live in fear,” the mayor said. “No one should go without the health care they need. Health care is a human right. In this city, we’re going to make that a reality. … From this moment on in New York City, everyone is guaranteed the right to health care.”
The city will spend $100 million on the program, which will benefit 600,000 uninsured people, The New York Times reported.
NYC Care will not offer free health care to all New Yorkers, but will provide a primary care doctor and access to specialty care priced on a sliding scale according to patients’ income. The program is available to anyone who does not have an affordable insurance option, de Blasio said.
New York is not the first city to undertake an ambitious effort to make sure all residents get health care. In 2006, San Francisco launched “Healthy San Francisco,” which makes medical services available throughout the city to the uninsured. It’s not yet clear how similar or different DeBlasio’s initiative will be.
A major focus of the effort, DeBlasio emphasized, was making sure people get care before they get sick ― or, at least, before ongoing conditions explode into acute catastrophes ― by linking people with primary care doctors and clinics, so that they have “medical homes.” Not only will it keep people healthier, DeBlasio said; by keeping people out of emergency rooms, where everything is expensive, it could ultimately save money.
This is a developing story. Check back for updates.