Since unveiling his NYC Care plan, Mayor Bill de Blasio has framed the program as a groundbreaking success, including out on the presidential campaign trail.
“We are now guaranteeing health care for anyone who does not have insurance,” the mayor said.
But the program is limited to the city’s public hospital network, which doesn’t reach every part of the city. In fact, there are no facilities at all on Staten Island.
“That has not been enough to draw, particularly undocumented New Yorkers and other people who don’t have health insurance, in for primary care,” Manhattan Councilman Mark Levine said.
Levine and Manhattan Councilwoman Carlina Rivera introduced legislation Wednesday that would dramatically expand on the mayor’s program.
The proposal would tap existing community clinics in every part of the city, many of which are multilingual and have built up trust over decades of experience.
“All of them are rooted in communities, they’re nonprofits, and they’re not currently part of the NYC Care plan. And we’re trying to fix that,” Levine said.
“Health care needs to be personalized, it needs to be culturally competent, and it needs to be close to where people live so they get the access they need,” City Council Speaker Corey Johnson said.
The program would also provide participants with a so-called health care concierge, a single point of contact to help navigate the system. While the goal is to bring care — and, in particular, primary care — to the uninsured, others could also benefit.
“If you’re a 25-year-old freelancer who bought a plan off the exchange, you may not understand all of your benefits in the right way or how to use those benefits,” Johnson said. “So we want to set up navigators that can help people understand their benefits and still be connected to care.”
“It doesn’t cost a lot. But it’s been shown, through really good research, to have a big impact, particularly on people who are not used to accessing the health care system,” Levine said.
Johnson said he expects hearings on the legislation this fall. It’s estimated the program could cost $100 million a year on top of the cost of NYC Care.
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