New York City Mayor Bill de Blasioannounced Tuesday a plan to provide primary and specialty care for roughly 600,000 residents who now use the hospital emergency rooms in the city as primary care.
Claudia Calhoon, senior director of immigrant integration policy for the New York Immigration Coalition, said the program will include primary, preventive and specialty care and behavioral health services through New York City Health and Hospitals, the nation's largest public health-care system.
During a news conference at a Bronx hospital that is part of the city's network of public hospitals and clinics, de Blasio said repeatedly that he would prefer a federal or state single-payer health care system.
De Blasio said NYC Care would work on a "sliding scale" where "people will pay what they can" for care.
The program is meant to reach an estimated 600,000 city residents now without health insurance. All of New York City's uninsured-including illegal aliens-can go to city hospitals and receive treatment on demand. "Today we celebrate our city's relentless commitment to accessible, high-quality healthcare", Palacio continued.
The city claims that this is not an insurance program; it already has a public option. The announcement makes NY the second USA city to attempt to provide health care to everyone living there, coming about a dozen years after San Francisco pioneered the idea with a more limited promise. There are approximately 600,000 New Yorkers without health care coverage. "For people who have the ability to pay, we'll be expecting that people pay what they can".
'If folks get primary care or mental health services when they need them at the right point in life, that means you avoid everything from homelessness, incarceration, people losing their jobs'.
"Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it", De Blasio concluded. "The emergency room truly should be the last resort".
De Blasio spoke about the plan on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," boasting that "this has never been done in the country in this kind of a comprehensive way". "And we can get it to them".
Mitchell Katz, MD, president and CEO of NYC Health and Hospitals, the city's public healthcare network, noted that prescription drugs are one thing most people are anxious about being able to afford, but "under this program, pharmaceutical costs are covered".
"I have seen first- hand some of the disadvantages that our healthcare system deals to people who are of a different background than their provider, be it racially, culturally or economically".
While the City Council is overwhelmingly controlled by Democrats, the plan is likely to engender opposition from the city's business community, which has already cried foul over the mayor's tax increases.
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