No health insurance? Mayor signs order for agencies to help residents

January 22, 2019 By Todd Maisel Brooklyn Daily Eagle
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New York City isn’t quite ready to extend universal health coverage to all residents through the landmark NYC Care program announced earlier this month, but it can get a head start with help from every city agency, Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.

De Blasio signed an executive order formally enlisting all city agencies in the effort to extend health insurance at a Kings County Hospital in Flatbush on Tuesday.

“We are the biggest city in the richest nation on earth, and yet there are 600,000 people who do not have health care coverage — 600,000,” de Blasio said. “I want to remind everyone: that is the size of the entire population of Milwaukee or Baltimore. That’s a whole city-worth of people who don’t have health care, and they don’t know where to turn. They live in fear of something going wrong. And we know one thing for sure: they do not get the health care they need when they need it.”

The deadline for open enrollment in the state’s insurance marketplace is Jan. 31.

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The executive order is part of the city’s Get Covered NYC initiative, designed to expand insurance access, promote preventive care and reduce the number of hospitalizations and emergency room visits, especially among low-income New Yorkers.

“The patient loses when they didn’t have primary care, when they didn’t have specialists when they needed them, so they end up in the emergency room or they end up in the hospital when it could have been solved on the front-end,” de Blasio said.

Bushwick resident Shealyn Brand introduced the mayor and explained that she went 10 years without health insurance because her employer did not offer it.

“I worked in the restaurant industry, and it is rare to find an employer who offers health insurance. So, I simply couldn’t afford health insurance,” Brand said. “So over the years, I put my health on the back burner, and nobody should be forced to put their health care off.”

Brand said she used the city’s health portal to find cost-effective coverage

“After 10 long years, I finally have health insurance I can afford,” she said.

Under the Executive Order, the mayor’s Public Engagement Unit will train agency staff and provide agencies with relevant information to help New Yorkers find affordable health insurance. City workers will conduct outreach in parks, schools, public housing, police precincts and government offices.

On Jan. 8, de Blasio announced that the city would soon be able to extend universal health coverage to all residents, regardless of immigration status, without increasing taxes. The plan, known as NYC Care, extends an existing MetroPlus program that pays hospital bills for low-income New Yorkers.

The city will introduce NYC Care, starting in the Bronx, in Summer 2019, de Blasio said earlier this month.

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