NEW YORK (WCBS 880) – Mayor Bill de Blasio made national headlines Tuesday with his announcement that the city would offer health coverage to all New Yorkers whether or not they can afford it or are undocumented.
But how is the new $100 million health care plan different from what is already being offered through the city?
The mayor’s goal with the new plan is to get New Yorkers out of costly emergency rooms for primary care and into doctor’s offices, but just how the program will work is unclear says David Sandman, president of the nonprofit New York State Health Foundation.
“We need to know exactly who is going to be eligible for the program. It’s important to know how they’re going to market the program, especially to hard-to-reach and hard-to-serve populations,” he said.
Among those populations: undocumented immigrants who may fear signing up for a government program could lead to deportation.
In order for the program to work, Sandman says, there can’t be long waits for appointments.
“To break those old habits and get them to rely upon a primary care provider does have to include convenience and access,” he said.
The city already provides health care to the uninsured through its hospital system, but the mayor says he wants a more streamlined and user-friendly approach. The mayor says the system is financially challenged and does not work well in connecting patients to doctors.
De Blasio is promising a more efficient system, where people who pay on a sliding scale based on income can access medical and mental health care.