NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio today announced his administration will launch the largest, most comprehensive plan in the nation to guarantee health care for every New Yorker. The plan will serve the 600,000 New Yorkers without insurance by strengthening NYC’s public health insurance option, MetroPlus, and guaranteeing anyone ineligible for insurance – including undocumented New Yorkers – has direct access to NYC Health + Hospitals’ physicians, pharmacies and mental health and substance abuse services through a new program called NYC Care. All services will be affordable on a sliding scale. The programs will include customer-friendly call lines to help New Yorkers – regardless of their insurance – make appointments with general practitioners, cardiologists, pediatricians, gynecologists and a full spectrum of health care services.
“Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it,” said Mayor de Blasio. “While the federal government works to gut health care for millions of Americans, New York City is leading the way by guaranteeing that every New Yorker has access to quality, comprehensive access to care, regardless of immigration status or their ability to pay.”
“With today’s announcement of NYC Care, New York City takes another leap ahead of the rest of the nation in providing mental health services,” said First Lady Chirlane McCray. “Guaranteed health care means guaranteed MENTAL health care and alcohol/drug addiction treatment. No other city or state provides these comprehensive services to ALL residents.”
“We have the tools and opportunity to guarantee health care for all New Yorkers,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. “New Yorkers who can’t enroll in or afford health insurance will now be able to access comprehensive, patient-centered services through NYC Care. At the same time, we will amplify our efforts to increase enrollment into MetroPlus. Today we celebrate our City’s relentless commitment to accessible, high-quality health care.”
“Expanding access to care is a key step in eliminating health disparities in our city,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Oxiris Barbot. “The Affordable Care Act started us down this path, but it is time to finish the job. New York City is proud to lead the way. I stand with Mayor de Blasio today in declaring health care is a right for all, not a privilege for only those who can afford care.”
“NYC Care will be the biggest and most comprehensive health coverage program in the country,” said Dr. Mitchell Katz, President and CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals. “Building on the great work of our doctors, nurses and staff, and working collaboratively with community partners, NYC Health + Hospitals will help give all New Yorkers the quality care they deserve.”
“In the fairest big City in America, everyone, no matter where they came from, or when they got here, has a right to be healthy and get the care they need to thrive. We know that there are persistent disparities in health insurance coverage between citizens and non-citizen New Yorkers, – including undocumented immigrants – where nearly 94% of U.S.-born New Yorkers have health insurance, compared with just 69% of non-citizen New Yorkers. Today’s announcement brings us one step closer to realizing a truly inclusive vision of healthcare for all.”
Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, 8 million New Yorkers now have health insurance, and the uninsured rate is about nearly half of what it was in 2013. In the last two years, New York City’s Public Engagement Unit coordinated signing up more than 130,000 New Yorkers for plans through the exchanges created by the law. However, about 600,000 New Yorkers remain without insurance, because they do not or cannot enroll. Through this new initiative, New York City will create a bigger, better, more comprehensive program for guaranteed health care. The City aims to better connect people to more effective and affordable health care in one of two ways:
- NYC Care: The city will connect hundreds of thousands of New Yorkers who are ineligible for health insurance – including undocumented New Yorkers and those who cannot afford insurance – to reliable care. Anyone will be able to access comprehensive care across NYC Health + Hospitals’ more than 70+ locations, once the program is fully ramped up. NYC Care is open to anyone who does not have an affordable insurance option and will be priced on a sliding scale, to ensure affordability. NYC Care will provide a primary care doctor and will provide access to specialty care, prescription drugs, mental health services, hospitalization, and more.
- NYC’s Public Option: The City will double down on efforts to boost enrollment in MetroPlus, the City’s public option. MetroPlus provides free or affordable health insurance that connects insurance-eligible New Yorkers to a network of providers that includes NYC Health + Hospitals’ 11 hospitals and 70 clinics. MetroPlus serves as an affordable, quality option for people on Medicaid, Medicare, and those purchasing insurance on the exchange. The City is committed to strengthening MetroPlus and connecting more independent workers, City vendors and City workers to that option. It also will improve the quality of the MetroPlus customer experience through improved access to clinical care, mental health services, and wellness rewards for healthy behavior.
The City is taking an unprecedented approach to health care services by tackling mental and physical issues holistically. Through both programs, New Yorkers will be able to access addiction services and opioid treatment, mental health counseling, and counseling services for trauma victims. New Yorkers will be able to call MetroPlus or 311 to be screened for health insurance eligibility and get connected to their best coverage option.
As part of this initiative, H+H will be significantly enhancing 24/7 customer service to seamlessly connect patients to healthcare.
NYC Care will launch in summer 2019 and will roll out geographically, starting in the Bronx. It will be fully available to all New Yorkers across the five boroughs in 2021. The program will cost at least $100 million annually at full scale. Additionally, MetroPlus will announce a series of enhancements throughout the year.