NYC rushes to insure thousands of residents before Obamacare dismantled
With the future of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in doubt, Mayor Bill de Blasio joined a host of city officials and health professionals on Tuesday to launch a program to enroll 50,000 low-income city residents in health insurance plans over the next year.
President-elect Donald Trump has promised to dismantle President Obama’s signature health program, which has provided insurance to millions of previously uninsured Americans.
“We don’t know the future of the Affordable Care Act, but we do know that Obamacare and Medicaid expansion are helping New Yorkers every day,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We must continue to enroll eligible residents in these vital programs, paying special attention to those most appealing to low-income residents, such as Medicaid and the Essential Plan.”
“The more and more Americans that sign up for the ACA, the harder it is to take it away,” he said, adding, “It is sending a message that this city is going to stand by its people, and not let a single election change who we are. We believe people deserve health insurance.”
Having more low-income New Yorkers insured will also benefit the city’s financially strained Health + Hospitals system, which is mandated to treat all regardless of their ability to pay.
Health + Hospitals’ Interim President Stan Brezenoff said in a release that as the national health care landscape has changed, the health system has had to “think creatively” as to how health care will be paid for.
Insured individuals are able to obtain primary care before their health issues reach critical levels and require more expensive emergency room or inpatient care.
When asked by reporters if he was ready for “potential blowback” from the president-elect and his team about his comments, de Blasio replied, “Am I ready? I was born ready.”
Praise from officials, organizations
Called GetCoveredNYC, program workers will contact uninsured New Yorkers who have visited Health + Hospitals facilities. Outreach teams will visit homes and also hold hours at community partner and elected officials’ offices. The open enrollment period ends on Jan. 31, 2017.
According to the city, many of those contacted may be eligible for Medicaid at no cost. Those whose earnings exceed Medicaid limits may be eligible for the Essential Plan, which offers coverage for either $20 monthly premium or no cost. Those earning even more may be eligible for Qualified Health Plan coverage, offered by MetroPlus and others, with public subsidies on a sliding scale.
All the plans cover inpatient and outpatient care, physician services, diagnostic services, mental healthcare and prescription drugs.
In New York City, since the Affordable Care Act came into play, 1.6 million New York City residents have signed up for health insurance, de Blasio said.
Officials and heads of organizations in Brooklyn and across the city applauded the initiative, including U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez, state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Council Member Mathieu Eugene, Rabbi David Niederman of the United Jewish Organizations of Williamsburg and North Brooklyn, Community Board 18 District Manager Dorothy Turano, Community Board 16 Dostrict Manager Viola Greene-Walker and Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce CEO Andrew Hoan.
De Blasio also gained plaudits from progressive organizations. Neera Tanden, president and CEO of the liberal policy group Center for American Progress said in a statement, “As President-elect Trump and Republicans in Congress plan to strip coverage from millions of Americans, Mayor de Blasio is showing them what true leadership looks like.”
New Yorkers may get information about enrolling by calling 311 or texting CoveredNYC to 877-877.
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