De Blasio’s health care plan for all New Yorkers is nothing new

The mayor’s promise of “health care for all New Yorkers” is simply his newest grand phantasm.

Mayor de Blasio introduced Tuesday a plan to “guarantee health care to all New Yorkers.” Responding to what he described as Washington’s failure to attain single-payer health insurance coverage, the mayor laid out a “transformative” plan to offer free, complete main and specialised care to 600,000 New Yorkers, together with 300,000 unlawful immigrants.

“We are saying the word ‘guarantee’ because we can make it happen,” he introduced, pledging to place $100 million towards the new initiative.

If spending an extra $100 million is all it takes to pay the health prices of greater than a half-million individuals, you might surprise why New York City Health + Hospitals is going broke spending $8 billion yearly to deal with 1.1 million individuals.

The reply: Mayor de Blasio is not likely proposing something new; nor is he planning to develop companies or care to anybody presently ineligible. All of New York City’s uninsured — together with unlawful immigrants — can go to metropolis hospitals and obtain remedy on demand. The mayor is making an attempt to do what a few of his predecessors tried — shift sufferers away from the emergency room and into main care, or clinics. In 1995, for occasion, then-Mayor Rudy Giuliani empaneled a bunch of specialists to deal with the way forward for the town’s public hospitals. The panel concluded, within the phrases of a Newsday editorial, that “for patients, emphasis would be on primary care instead of hurried emergency-room sessions and days of hospitalization.”

The tendency of a section of the inhabitants to keep away from the health-care system till a important second, relying in impact on emergency rooms for main care, has been the knottiest downside in public health for many years. Letting easy issues fester makes them costlier to deal with. Using ERs designed to deal with resource-intensive trauma conditions for primary medical issues is inefficient and wasteful. The metropolis has spent a lot of cash making an attempt to persuade poor and/or mentally sick individuals to develop common medical habits by signing up for Medicaid and getting a primary-care physician.

De Blasio makes it sound as if unlawful immigrants haven’t been in a position to get health care till now. But in 2009, Alan Aviles, then the town’s hospitals chief, spoke of “hundreds of millions of dollars in federal funds that cover the costs of serving uninsured patients including undocumented immigrants.”

Aviles stated that the town was famend for its “significant innovations in expanding access to care for immigrants, including our financial-assistance policies that provide deeply discounted fees for the uninsured, our comprehensive communications assistance for limited-English-proficiency patients, and our strictly enforced confidentiality policies that afford new immigrants a sense of security in accessing needed care.”

In 2013, Lincoln Hospital in The Bronx introduced a new “Integrated Wellness Program” focusing on significantly mentally sick individuals with persistent health issues — the identical inhabitants that tends to be uninsured, to neglect their very own care, and to wind up within the ER when their diabetes or heart problems catches up with them.

“At Lincoln, we aim to establish best practices that combine physical and mental health — two services which have historically been treated separately,” stated Milton Nuñez, then as now Lincoln’s director — phrases not a lot totally different from what Chirlane McCray stated at Tuesday’s “revolutionary” press convention.

HHC Director Mitchell Katz virtually admitted that the mayor’s announcement of assured health care for all is simply fanfare, amounting to extra “enabling services” for already-existing applications. Asked if uninsured individuals — largely unlawful immigrants — can get main care now, Katz defined, “You can definitely walk into any emergency room, you can go to a clinic, but what is missing is the good customer service to ensure that you get an available appointment. . . That’s what we’re missing and the mayor is providing.”

Dividing $100 million by 600,000 individuals involves about $170 per individual — maybe sufficient cash to cowl one annual wellness go to to a nurse-practitioner, assuming no lab work, prescriptions or diseases.

Clearly, the cash that the mayor is assigning to this new initiative is supposed for outreach — to persuade individuals to go to the town’s already-burdened public clinics as an alternative of ready till they get sick sufficient to want an emergency room.

That’s nice, so far as it goes, however as a transformative, revolutionary program, it resembles telling individuals to name the Housing Authority in the event that they want an residence after which pretending that the housing disaster has been solved.

De Blasio is an knowledgeable at unveiling cloud-castles and proclaiming himself a grasp builder. His “health care for all” effort appears little totally different.

Seth Barron is venture director of the NYC Initiative on the Manhattan Institute and affiliate editor of City Journal, from which this was tailored.

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