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De Blasio rolls out universal health care plan for all NYC residents, including illegal immigrants


'First we're getting you your health care. Then we're working out the finances.'

Image source: 'Morning Joe' video screenshot

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a universal health care plan on Tuesday, promising affordable medical coverage to all residents, regardless of citizenship status. But details were scant on how the program will be funded.

What are the details?

The $100 million plan, dubbed "NYC Care," is designed to provide health insurance for the 600,000 New Yorkers who have either opted out of purchasing insurance, cannot afford the premiums available on the state's health-care exchange, or are ineligible for coverage because they are not citizens of the United States.

"We're going to guarantee health care for New Yorkers who need it," de Blasio told MSNBC's "Morning Joe." "We have now, in New York City, something that we can build on. We have a public option, that we're ready to make much bigger — a public health insurance option that can reach the hundreds of thousands that are, right now, not in any kind of health insurance."

"We also have a way to provide direct health care to a lot of our neighbors, who happen to be undocumented," the mayor continued. "They're still a part of our community, they need health care, their families need health care. We recognize that obviously health care isn't just, in theory, a right; it's in practice a right."

De Blasio added, "Republicans in Washington are trying to tear down health care. We are doing just the opposite."

Beyond just providing citizens with a primary care physician, the mayor says specialty care, mental health services and other services will be available under the program. He said the city will make sure the process is "seamless."

New York City does not plan to raise taxes on residents to fund the new initiative, as de Blasio says the program and its costs will be phased in over the span of several years, USA Today reported.

According to Bloomberg, NYC Care will begin in the Bronx this year, and is expected to be available to all New Yorkers in 2021.

Wait, so, how does this work?

During a news conference on Tuesday, de Blasio was asked for further details about the plan's "sliding scale." A reporter asked who would receive free coverage, and who would be required to pay. An adviser answered that the premium scale "will slide to zero for people who don't have resources. For people who have the ability to pay, we'll be expecting that people pay what they can."

When the reporter further pressed the mayor for an answer, de Blasio said, "We're first getting people health care. I want to make sure that's really, really clear. First we're getting you your health care. Then we're working out the finances."

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