New York Mayor Bill de Blasio announced on Jan. 8 a health care plan to cover an estimated 600,000 residents, including undocumented residents. The announcement was first made on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, and later that same day at the Lincoln Medical Center in the Bronx.
“About 600,000 New Yorkers who do not have any health care coverage at all … have no where to turn—except the emergency room, which is exactly the last place we want to see people go,” said de Blasio at the Lincoln Medical Center.
According to de Blasio many residents are uninsured, meaning they must resort to the emergency room for treatment and the city’s money is not well spent for this reason. He said giving people the primary care they need and helping them avoid the emergency room will help the financial burden for patients.
The mayor touted the program as a step toward universal health care.
NYC Care Details
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. Those who cannot pay will not pay.
New Yorkers who apply for NYC Care services will receive primary care—mental and physical health care services included—like physicians, psychotherapy, and pharmaceuticals. It will not cover dental services. Only New York City residents are eligible for NYC Care.
To take advantage of these services, New Yorkers will have to apply for a membership card online or over the phone, at which point a member number will be provided, giving access to these healthcare services.
Cost of Universal Healthcare Questioned
According to de Blasio the annual cost of the program will be, at least, $100 million. When asked on MSNBC for a response to taxpayers who do not want to pay for the health care of undocumented residents—and young adults who think they do not need health care—the mayor said New Yorkers will have to pay anyway because, when these groups get sick, they will be sent to emergency rooms that costs the public health care system money.
He ruled-out raising taxes but conservatives, such as the chairmen of the Conservative Party of New York, have their doubts about the feasibility of the mayor’s health care program.
“[The mayor] feels very free to spend taxpayers’ money at any cost, which is only going to lead to higher taxes and drive more, actually lower income, people out of the city,” he told ABC.
The NYC Care program launches in the summer of 2019.