New York City will provide health care for all its residents regardless of their immigration status or ability to pay, NYC Mayor Bill de Blasio said on Tuesday.
At a press conference at Lincoln Hospital in the borough of Bronx, de Blasio said the city will spend at least 100 million U.S. dollars each year to guarantee health care for some 600,000 New Yorkers who currently do not have medical insurance, including those who cannot afford it, undocumented immigrants who are not qualified for it, and "young invincibles" who think they don't need it.
Dubbed NYC Care, the program will be operational in 2019 borough by borough and will give New York City "the most comprehensive health system in the nation," said the mayor.
"Everyone is guaranteed the right to health care, everyone," he stressed.
Participants of the program will have access to a comprehensive set of medical services including making appointments with general practitioners and specialists, prescriptions, mental health services, substance abuse services, among others, according to the mayor.
There will be a "sliding scale" for the program's cost on individuals based on their financial situations, and it could be free if someone proves to be unable to pay at all, he noted.
The over 8.6 million New Yorkers are faced with a hospital system that has been plagued by financial strains. The city already runs a MetroPlus Health Plan that covers some 516,000 low-income residents.