New York City mayor announces $100 million health care program

Bill de Blasio

New York City will spend up to $100 million a year to expand health care coverage to people without health insurance, including immigrants who are in the US illegally, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday.

The $100million plan would reach 600,000 uninsured New Yorkers, including undocumented immigrants, low-income residents who can't afford current insurance plans, and the "young invincibles" who don't think they need insurance.

In a tweet, de Blasio said the plan will "ensure the first stop for people isn't the emergency room".

The plan will cost "at least $100 million annually at full scale", the press release noted. The city said last week that an ambitious goal of providing MetroCards to about 800,000 residents whose incomes are below the federal poverty line would start this month with cards for only about 30,000 people, or about four percent of the total. And if health care insurance did cost $166 per person per year then it wouldn't be a problem, would it?

Approximately 600,000 New Yorkers will qualify for this direct coverage, including 300,000 undocumented residents.

"We are saying the word guarantee because we can make it happen", the mayor added, emphasizing that the program would be unprecedented in the United States. "We're going to guarantee health care for New Yorkers who need it", de Blasio said. He added that NY has a public health insurance option, MetroPlus, that the city aims to improve, expand and support through NYC Care.

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"There's a smoothing that occurs when you take a group of people who are getting very expensive care much later than they should, and that is a huge burden on the healthcare system", he explained. For there really isn't any magic wand to be waved over what health care does cost.

The program is expected to launch this summer.

Williams also wondered about de Blasio's implementation strategy but welcomed that mental health services would be included under NYC Care.

"Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it", said the mayor, who has tracked hard to the left following the election of President Donald Trump.

Asked about how the program would work in places like Staten Island without a public hospital, de Blasio emphasized that the Vanderbilt Clinic was open and that MetroPlus would work everywhere "so that's half the people". Typically, the uninsured go to an emergency room to be seen. "The things that attract companies to being in NY in the first place won't just go away when something like this is put into action". "Let's say they're having an after-hours issue and need understanding about where to get a prescription filled".

The mayor announced the plan the day after a Democrat on the other side of the country, California Gov. Gavin Newsom, also staked out an aggressive stance.

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