Caribbean nationals could benefit from New York health plan

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio says his administration will launch what he describes as “the largest, most comprehensive plan” in the United States to guarantee health care for every New Yorker, including undocumented Caribbean and other immigrants.

The mayor said the plan will serve the 600,000 New Yorkers without insurance by strengthening New York City’s public health insurance option, MetroPlus, and guaranteeing anyone ineligible for insurance, including undocumented New Yorkers.

“Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it. While the federal government works to cut health care for millions of Americans, New York City is leading the way by guaranteeing that every New Yorker has access to quality, comprehensive care, regardless of immigration status or their ability to pay,” he said.

His wife, Chirlane McCray, who traces her roots to Barbados and St Lucia, said with the announcement New York City takes another leap ahead of the rest of the country in providing health services.

“Guaranteed health care means guaranteed mental health care and alcohol/drug addiction treatment. No other city or state provides these comprehensive services to all residents,” she added.

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr Herminia Palacio said New Yorkers who can’t enrol in or afford health insurance will now be able to access comprehensive, patient-centred services through NYC Care.

“At the same time, we will amplify our efforts to increase enrolment into MetroPlus. Today we celebrate our city’s relentless commitment to accessible, high-quality health care.”

The mayor said, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, eight million New Yorkers now have health insurance, adding that the uninsured rate is about nearly half of what it was in 2013.

In the last two years, he said New York City’s Public Engagement Unit coordinated signing up more than 130,000 New Yorkers for plans through the exchanges created by the law.

But de Blasio said about 600,000 New Yorkers, including many Caribbean immigrants, remain without insurance, “because they do not or cannot enrol”.

Through this new initiative, the mayor said New York City will create a “bigger, better, more comprehensive programme for guaranteed health care” and that the city aims to better connect people to more effective and affordable health care.