“There are eight million stories in the naked city…,” goes one of the most famous lines in movies. (Shouldn’t the city put some clothes on?) The city in the 1948 noir TheNaked City is New York, which now, ironically, has a population of about 8.6 million. Ironic, because about 600,000 people (the .6) have no health insurance. Mayor Bill de Blasio yesterday unveiled a plan in which the city will spend $100 million a year to give those uninsured coverage. As the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reports, the plan aims to ease the burden on emergency rooms at municipal public hospitals.
And no one should give this program, called NYC Care, the Bronx cheer, especially residents of the Bronx, the location of its initial launch. It’s available now for those who are eligible for MetroPlus, the city’s established program aimed at helping the underinsured and uninsured, but will be expanded to those not eligible for MetroPlus or who can’t afford it. Services in NYC Care will be available on a sliding scale.
De Blasio argues that NYC Care just makes good fiscal sense. The uninsured now get health care at the city’s hospitals at the expense of taxpayers. “We are spending a lot of money right now and not spending it the way we want to. We are talking about a vast amount of cost we can avert.”
There might be some logistical hurdles, as the WSJ points out. “About half of the 600,000 New Yorkers without insurance are eligible [for MetroPlus], but don’t enroll because they are young or don’t want to incur the cost of insurance, according to city officials. The other half are said to be undocumented immigrants and ineligible for insurance.”