New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio declared Tuesday that the city will unveil a brand new "universal" health care program, footing the bill for all uninsured New York City residents, "regardless of their ability to pay or their immigration status."
ABC News reports that de Blasio's new plan, NYC Care, isn't exactly a "universal health care" plan, but rather a "guarantee" that the city will pay for preventative medical care for an estimated 600,000 who do not have insurance, but live within the boundaries of New York City.
Health care, De Blasio announced, is now a "right" for anyone who gets sick in NYC.
"We recognized that obviously health care is not just in theory a right," de Blasio told media ahead of his announcement. "We have to make it in practice a right."
"Health care is a human right. In this city we are going to make that a reality," de Blasio repeated at a press conference on the expansion Tuesday morning.
The plan, which isn't precisely a plan — details are scant on how the system will actually work — will cover everything from mental health services, to well visits, to maternity care for New Yorkers who choose to go without insurance, or who can't afford even the basic, public insurance option that New York City already offers, and aren't signed up for "Obamacare" options on the state exchange.
"You know the national reality, the Republicans in Washington are trying to tear down health care, trying to tear down the universality of health care coverage, get rid of Obamacare. We're doing the opposite. We want to increase the amount of healthcare that people can reach. We want them to have primary care, we want them to have specialty care," de Blasio crowed in a press release, according to local media.
He added, "It will be open to anyone who does not have an affordable insurance option and will be priced on a sliding scale, to ensure affordability. NYC Care will provide a primary care doctor and will provide access to specialty care, prescription drugs, mental health services, hospitalization, and more."
De Blasio apparently anticipates that the "pay-what-you-want" option will yield some payment, and its not clear from the numbers cited in Tuesday's press conference that the city has considered what might happen if all 600,000 uninsured New Yorkers fail to pay anything for services rendered.
As Daily Wire Editor-in-Chief Ben Shapiro pointed out on Twitter, de Blasio's government estimates the plan will cost the city no more than $100 million per year — an amount that de Blasio says precludes having to raise taxes to cover the program. But the $100 million number assumes either that not all 600,000 uninsured individuals will need medical care, or that medical care will be provided at far below market value.
There are 600,000 uninsured in NYC. De Blaise claims the program will cost just $100 million additionally per year. That’s $160 per uninsured, so, um, LOL. https://t.co/7nqXCCt0Ns— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) January 8, 2019
Otherwise, the city's estimate averages out to $160 per person in medical costs per year. One single birth can cost upwards of $10,000.
De Blasio seems unfazed by the idea that this might be a very expensive boondoggle, of course.
"Health care is a right, not a privilege reserved for those who can afford it," de Blasio concluded. "While the federal government works to gut health care for millions of Americans, New York City is leading the way by guaranteeing that every New Yorker has access to quality, comprehensive access to care, regardless of immigration status or their ability to pay."