NEW YORK, Jan 8 (Reuters) - New York City on Tuesday launched a $100 million health insurance program to cover 600,000 uninsured city residents, including those unable to afford coverage and those living in the United States illegally, Mayor Bill de Blasio said.
The program marks the Democratic mayor’s effort to address the progressive priority of providing universal healthcare coverage. By extending it to an estimated 300,000 city residents who are illegal immigrants, it is a thumb in the eye of U.S. President Donald Trump, who has made a migrant crack-down a top priority.
“From this moment on in New York City everyone is guaranteed the right to health care,” de Blasio said. “We can make it happen.”
Healthcare coverage has become a deeply partisan issue in the United States, with Trump’s Republican party pushing to repeal the 2010 Obamacare law while the liberal wing of the Democratic party has taken up calls to adopt a federally funded single-payer system that would cover all Americans.
The new NYC Care plan, which de Blasio said will be funded without tax increases, is an expansion of the city’s existing MetroPlus plan covering hospital bills for low-income residents. The new plan provides insurance for visits to doctors outside of hospitals; health experts say that access to regular medical visits can cut down on costly hospital stays.
The mayor said that all services will be affordable on a sliding scale for those who can pay something and those who cannot afford it will receive care for free. (Reporting by Gina Cherelus, Editing by Susan Thomas)