New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio is rolling out an initiative — with a promised $100 million-a-year investment — to guarantee all residents of his city access to health care. He calls it NYC Care.
What he envisions is not single-payer, or even a health insurance scheme, but a copycat version of the San Francisco solution — let everyone use the city’s public health facilities and pay only what they can afford. The mayor spoke of a graduated payment schedule but released no details.
“From this moment on in New York City everyone is guaranteed the right to health care,” the mayor said Tuesday (Jan. 8). “We are saying the word guarantee because we can make it happen.”
The city, with funding from the state, operates 70 public health clinics and 11 hospitals. De Blasio is chipping in $100 million from the city’s treasury for the first year of operations, but the public health care system is already on financial life-support. Two years ago the city budget office reported that the system faced a $6 billion shortfall through 2020.
San Francisco launched its model program 10 years ago, and a 2011 report touted the initiative’s success: Three-fourths of the participants visited a doctor in their first year of enrollment; visits to the emergency room correspondingly declined; and there was also a drop in preventable hospitalizations for the uninsured, according to Vox.
Not content with a mere health care rewrite for his citizens — 600,000 of whom lack health insurance — the mayor the next day introduced legislation to guarantee every worker in the city two paid weeks of vacation each year. The legislation is now before the City Council.
“To be the fairest big city in America, New Yorkers can’t be forced to choose between bringing home a paycheck and taking time off to just disconnect or spend time with loved ones — that choice ends with Paid Personal Time,” de Blasio said.