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.
Officially named "NYC Care," de Blasio first announced the plan and discussed some of its basic details Tuesday morning during an interview on MSNBC's "Morning Joe":
We've got a plan to guarantee health care for all New Yorkers. pic.twitter.com/AnMsFGZsLe
— Mayor Bill de Blasio (@NYCMayor) January 8, 2019
Proponents of a nationwide Medicare for All system were quick to applaud de Blasio's plan as a major victory for health justice and a significant step toward the establishment of a statewide single-payer system in New York.
"Under NYC Care, 600,000 New Yorkers, including our undocumented brothers and sisters, will have access to healthcare," declared Winnie Wong, founder of the advocacy group People for Bernie. "This is huge step in the right direction and it clears a path toward statewide single-payer."
"This is a big step in the right direction—but healthcare is still a human right, and must be extended to everyone in the state!"
—New York Immigration Coalition
Described by de Blasio as a bold healthcare initiative that "has never been done before in this country in this kind of comprehensive way," NYC Care would build upon the city's existing MetroPlus insurance system and spend an estimated $100 million per year to provide physical and mental health coverage, pediatric care, and other necessities to all residents.
While NYC Care will not provide free coverage to everyone in the city, the program will be priced on a sliding scale according to individuals' ability to pay.
"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," de Blasio said during Tuesday's press conference. "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. You name it. The things that people need will be available to them."
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."
Thank you @NYCMayor for your commitment to cover all NYC residents, including those who are undocumented; this is a big step in the right direction--but healthcare is still a human right, and must be extended to everyone in the state! #Coverage4All https://t.co/0dRBO8vDJa
— New York Immigration Coalition (@thenyic) January 8, 2019
During his presser on Tuesday, de Blasio said he will continue to support statewide and national efforts to move toward single-payer, and characterized NYC Care as an immediate solution for hundreds of thousands of uninsured New York City residents.
"We're gonna work for those bigger changes," the mayor said. "But our people need healthcare right now. They need it right now. And we can get it to them."
Watch de Blasio's full press conference below: