Mayor says NYC will expand health coverage to 600000 people

Faith Castro
January 11, 2019

Mayor Bill de Blasio made a surprise announcement on Tuesday, January 8, saying the city will soon guarantee comprehensive health care to every single resident regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status.

The mayor's two-pronged approach will harness the MetroPlus Health Plan, a subsidiary of the city's public hospital system that offers coverage to more than half-a-million New Yorkers via Medicaid, Medicare and Affordable Care Act policies.

The basic premise: The approximately 600,000 uninsured people now living in New York City will gain free or affordable access to primary and secondary providers, thanks to a strengthened public insurance plan (the existing MetroPlus) and a new program called NYC Care. A city spokesman said, though, the new program is not health insurance, but the city paying for direct comprehensive care for patients, WNBC-TV reported.

Eric Philips, de Blasio's press secretary, later clarified that the plan is not health insurance. An estimated 600,000 people in the city are not now covered by any healthcare plan.

The mayor said he believes the program will ultimately save taxpayers money because participants in NYC Care will be able to get routine care in a doctor's office as opposed to more expensive emergency room services. "We as a country must get there, and New York City will lead the way", de Blasio said.

Fees for the NYC Care services will be based on sliding scale charges, meaning people will pay for health care services based on their income.

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Inslee's move comes a day after California Gov. Gavin Newsom proposed state-funded health care coverage for 138,000 young people living in the country illegally and reinstating a mandate for everyone to buy insurance or pay a fine - part of former President Barack Obama's health care law that congressional Republicans eliminated previous year.

In 2014, a yearlong pilot program called "Action Health NYC" showed that enrollees were more likely to receive preventive care and diagnoses of chronic conditions.

"No one should have to live in fear", the mayor said. But, aides said, it was something the city could do immediately and on its own, and not require approval from the State Legislature, which is weighing some form of universal health insurance for New York State.

According to a local NBC network affiliate's report, the guaranteed healthcare will include "primary and specialty care, from pediatrics to OBGYN, geriatric, mental health and other services".

"Undocumented young adults should not have to worry about losing their health coverage when they turn 19", said Newsom, describing the effort as "another major step toward universal coverage".

Thank you @NYCMayor for your commitment to cover all NYC residents, including those who are undocumented; this is a big step in the right direction-but healthcare is still a human right, and must be extended to everyone in the state! "We want it to be seamless; if you have questions, here's where to call".

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