New York City to invest $100 million a year to provide healthcare to undocumented, low-wage workers

By | January 9, 2019

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a new healthcare plan for “all New Yorkers” to include illegal immigrants and low-wage workers that would cost the city $ 100 million a year.

De Blasio made his announcement on Tuesday hours before President Trump was scheduled to air a national address regarding the government shutdown and what he calls a “crisis” at the southern border. The healthcare initiative, called NYC Care, would work in tandem with the current MetroPlus healthcare system, but it was not immediately clear how and where the funds would come from, although de Blasio said that they would not have to raise taxes in order to fund the initiative. According to the New York Times, aides said that the city could independently implement the system without the approval of the state Legislature.

The goal, according to the Democratic mayor, is to “ensure the first stop for people isn’t the emergency room,” including a hotline that could connect patients to doctors who would become their primary care doctor. De Blasio said that going to the emergency room was the default means of healthcare for people, but it is the worst and most expensive way to get healthcare. NYC Care would allow individuals to seek treatment and even preventive care to help avoid costly trips to the ER.

The plan is to have NYC Care at full scale in two years, but it could face opposition from local Republicans, including Nicole Malliotakis, who is in the New York State Assembly and lost to de Blasio in the 2017 mayoral election.

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“Our citizens have hard enough time covering their own healthcare costs. Now, @nycmayor also wants them to pay for healthcare of 300,000 citizens of other countries,” wrote Malliotakis on Twitter. “He must stop abusing the middle class and treating us like his personal ATM.”

De Blasio called it a “guarantee of healthcare,” saying that it’s meant for New Yorkers who need it. He also said that undocumented immigrants are part of the community and it is important to include them and their families under the healthcare plan. When asked about pushback on paying for healthcare of young people and undocumented immigrants, de Blasio said that by not paying for coverage and care before people get really sick, the city, and therefore taxpayers, pay more for emergency room visits.