NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that New York City will guarantee health care to all New Yorkers.
The program is called NYC Care. It will launch this summer and roll out geographically, starting in the Bronx.
It will be fully available across all five boroughs in 2021 at an estimated cost of $100 million a year. Doctor visits will be priced on a sliding scale.
Watch: Mayor Bill de Blasio Announces NYC Care
“Health care is a human right. In this city, we’re going to make that a reality,” de Blasio said. “From this moment on in New York City, everyone is guaranteed the right to health care.”
“Health care isn’t just a right in theory, it must be a right in practice. Today I’m announcing a plan to guarantee health care for all New Yorkers. Through our own public option and a new program called NYC Care, we’ll ensure the first stop for people isn’t the emergency room,” de Blasio wrote on Twitter.
De Blasio says that when people know their health care is guaranteed it will change their behavior.
“When this plan is fully implemented every New Yorker who needs a doctor will have an actual doctor with a name and a place, they’re going to have a card that will empower them to go to that doctor whenever they need. A primary care doctor, an actual person that you can turn to that’s your doctor, and the specialty services that will make all the difference,” de Blasio said.
Those services will include OB/GYN care, mental health care, pediatric care and more, de Blasio said.
“You name it. The things that people need will be available to them,” he added. “The message will be go get the health care you need when you need it. Don’t wait. Don’t feel it’s not for you. Don’t feel you can’t afford it. Get the health care that you need when you need it.”
Of the 8.6 million New Yorkers, the program will target the 600,000 that currently don’t have insurance, de Blasio said. That will include undocumented people, regardless of immigration status.
“You might say right at the jump is this something that ideally should be handled in Washington, D.C. or in Albany? Yes it should. Let me just make that clear at the outset. The ultimate solution is single payer health insurance for this whole country, or Medicare for all. That’s the ideal, that what we need,” de Blasio said. “In the last couple of years there’s been tremendous focus, tremendous energy, pinpoint precision in Washington among Republicans trying to reduce the amount of health care people get. Trying to take away the right to health care. Trying to water down Obamacare and debilitate it. Lots of time and energy has been put into taking away health care from tens of millions of people. What we’re doing here in New York City? We’re getting health care to a lot of people who’ve never had it before. We’re going the opposite direction. We’re going to get it to everyone.”
“As property taxes continue to rise at an unprecedented and unsustainable speed, impacting homeowners and renters alike, Mayor de Blasio continues to look for ways to spend their hard earned money by placing a heavier burden on the hardworking taxpayers of this city,” said Republican Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis, who challenged de Blasio in the last election. “Our citizens have a hard enough time covering their own healthcare costs and now Mayor de Blasio also wants them to pay for the healthcare of 300,000 citizens of other countries. The Mayor must stop abusing the middle class and treating us like his personal ATM.”
De Blasio said, as it is, people are using the emergency room as “default health care provider for so many people in this country. It is the worst way to get health care. It is the most expensive way to get health care.”
David Sandman from the non profit New York State Health Foundation says there are many unanswered questions.
“Who’s going to be eligible? How are they going to sort out the moving parts of insurance versus how is this a little different from the safety net we already have in place,” he said.
Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-64th), who ran against de Blasio when he ran for reelection, says she has no faith in what she calls “de Blasio Care.”
“Anything that the mayor brings under his control turns out to be a disaster,” she said. “De Blasio Care is not gonna work for the people. It’s only going to be an added burden on hard working New Yorkers who are being driven out of the city in droves because they can’t afford to live here anymore.”
When the program is fully implemented, officials say it will be the most comprehensive health care system in the country.
The sliding cost scale will be for all services and for those who can’t afford to pay anything, they will pay nothing, officials said.
De Blasio said it will be paid for through the public health care system and he believes it will ultimately save money by preventing trips to the emergency room. He added that the program will be up and running this year and will be built out over the next few years.