De Blasio: NYC will begin guaranteeing comprehensive health care for residents

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) announced Tuesday that the city will begin guaranteeing health care to residents, regardless of their immigration status or their ability to pay. 

"Health care isn’t just a right in theory, it must be a right in practice," de Blasio tweeted. "Today I’m announcing a plan to guarantee health care for all New Yorkers. Through our own public option and a new program called NYC Care, we’ll ensure the first stop for people isn’t the emergency room."

The plan will help provide primary and specialty care for the city's uninsured residents, according to de Blasio.

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NBC New York reported that there are roughly 600,000 uninsured residents in the city. The new program is projected to cover people who use the emergency room as their primary care provider.

"This is the city paying for direct comprehensive care (not just ERs) for people who can't afford it, or can't get comprehensive Medicaid — including 300,000 undocumented New Yorkers," Eric Phillips, a spokesman for de Blasio, tweeted shortly after the mayor's announcement.

De Blasio spoke about the initiative on MSNBC's "Morning Joe," saying that "this has never been done in the country in this kind of a comprehensive way."

"We're going to guarantee health care for New Yorkers who need it," de Blasio said. "Health care is not just in theory a right. We have to make it in practice a right. And we're doing that here in this city."

He added that New York City has a public health insurance option that it can build on with this plan. The option is going to be expanded and supported through NYC Care, according to de Blasio.

The plan will be rolled out this year. Tax increases will not be necessary to fund it, NBC New York reported.