Dear Commons Community,
It was announced yesterday that New York City will spend at least $100 million to ensure that undocumented immigrants and others who cannot qualify for insurance can receive medical treatment, seeking to insert a city policy into two contentious national debates.
In making this announcement, Mayor Bill de Blasio is maintaining his position as a progressive leader on issues like education and health care, and as a bulwark against the policies of President Trump, particularly on immigration. Mr. de Blasio has also thrust his efforts on behalf of undocumented New Yorkers into the national debate over immigration, hours before Mr. Trump was to go on television Tuesday night to make his case for a border wall.
“Everyone is guaranteed the right to health care, everyone,” Mr. de Blasio said during a news conference at Lincoln Hospital in the Bronx. “We are saying the word guarantee because we can make it happen.”
New York City already provides health care to the uninsured and the undocumented through its hospital system, a roughly $8 billion behemoth whose history of service to the poor, regardless of an ability to pay, can be traced to the founding of Bellevue Hospital in the 18th century. A person without medical insurance has long been able to go to a city emergency room and get care, free of charge, or to seek a primary-care physician.
But the financially challenged system did not work well to connect patients to doctors, Mr. de Blasio said. He promised a streamlined approach — complete with a hotline and dedicated membership card — and one that would be focused on the primary-care doctor, rather than the emergency room.
“We were only covering them in the sense that they could go to the emergency room,” the mayor said. “It was not a way to live.”
The announcement came as proponents of universal health care coverage have increasingly looked to local governments, rather than Congress, to make meaningful progress in the short term. Also on Tuesday, Gov. Jay Inslee of Washington said he would seek to create a public option in the state.
Congratulations Mayor de Blasio for your heart and soul.