Declaring that healthcare is "a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it", New York City's Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio on Tuesday unveiled a plan that he said will guarantee comprehensive medical coverage to all 8.6 million city residents, including undocumented immigrants.
"New York City will begin guaranteeing comprehensive health care to every single resident regardless of someone's ability to pay or immigration status, an unprecedented plan that will protect the more than half-a-million New Yorkers now using the ER as a primary provider", writes NBC New York.
"This has never been done in the country in a comprehensive way", de Blasio said on MSNBC.
The $100 million plan, dubbed "NYC Care", is created to provide health insurance for the 600,000 New Yorkers who have either opted out of purchasing insurance, can not afford the premiums available on the state's health-care exchange, or are ineligible for coverage because they are not citizens of the United States. "The message will be go get the health care you need when you need it".
'This is one universal way to reach all those folks right now who are not covered'.
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After his appearance on the program, his office clarified that the program won't technically be health insurance.
De Blasio says that when people know their health care is guaranteed it will change their behavior. De Blasio aides told the NY Times that the NYC Care initiative is simply "something the city could do immediately and on its own". We want people to have primary care, specialty care. This plan will give all of that directly to the people who don't have it in the city'.
De Blasio said the plan will offer public health insurance on a sliding price scale that is based on income.
De Blasio explained he wants the plan to stop uninsured New Yorkers from using the ER as their primary care provider, and believes NYC Care will actually save the city money. As a result, they end up in the emergency room for complaints great and small, typically receiving care for a problem that's become much more serious during the wait. The emergency room is the worst way to get health care, it's the most expensive way to get health care, ' he said.
The mayor made the historic surprise announcement Tuesday during the MSNBC morning program Morning Joe.
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"You know the national reality, the Republicans in Washington are trying to tear down healthcare, trying to tear down the universality of health care coverage, get rid of Obamacare".
'To me that is the moral choice and a smart economic choice because we're not doing the insane thing which is making the emergency room the first place people turn to'.
'There are huge savings, humanly and economically, to getting it right. "Then we're working out the finances". It's going to save us money down the line'.
The program, NYC Care, will launch this summer in the Bronx.
In a tweet on Tuesday, the New York Immigration Coalition applauded de Blasio's effort to provide healthcare to all New York City residents and argued that comprehensive coverage "must be extended to everyone in the state".
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