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NYC to Guarantee Health Care to All, Including Undocumented Immigrants

NYC Care will cover New York City residents, regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status. (DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay)
NYC Care will cover New York City residents, regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status. (DarkoStojanovic/Pixabay)
January 9, 2019

NEW YORK - New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio has affirmed that every city resident will have access to comprehensive health care, regardless of their ability to pay or immigration status.

Speaking on national television Tuesday morning, the mayor unveiled the proposed NYC Care program, to reach those who now lack health coverage, including some 300,000 undocumented immigrants.

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.

"It's going to be really important for people who have felt excluded from the system or didn't know how to get services," she said, "or imagined that 'H and H' only has emergency-department services."

De Blasio said the NYC Care plan will take about two years to develop and implement. On Monday, new California Gov. Gavin Newsom committed to a similar proposal to cover immigrants in his state.

The Immigration Coalition has proposed allocating funds in the state budget to create an Essential Plan to cover everyone up to 200 percent of the poverty level, also regardless of immigration status.

"That would be comparable to what Gavin Newsom has proposed," Calhoon said, " and it would be very exciting for New York to be in the lead on making sure that all adults have access."

All children in New York State already have access to health coverage. Calhoon said immigrants and low-income New Yorkers aren't the only ones who would benefit from expanded access to care. Early detection and treatment cuts health-care costs overall and saves hospitals money, she said.

"When everyone is able to get access to services when they need them, and they have preventative services and they can see a primary care doctor," she said, "the whole health-care system works better."

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.

More information on de Blasio's plan is online at nyc.gov.

Andrea Sears, Public News Service - NY