A new plan to provide all New York City residents, even undocumented immigrants, with health care coverage is groundbreaking and has "never been done in the country in a comprehensive way," Mayor Bill de Blasio said Tuesday.
"Health care isn't just a right in theory, it must be a right in practice, and we're doing that here in this city," the Democratic mayor told MSNBC's "Morning Joe."
"We're going to guarantee healthcare for New Yorkers who need it. And 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."
After his appearance on the program, his office clarified that the program won't technically be health insurance.
"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," spokesman Eric Phillips tweeted.
The option will also provide healthcare to undocumented immigrants, said de Blasio, because they are still part of the community.
The program is expected to cost at least $100 million a year. It is expected to launch in the Bronx first this summer, and be available in the other boroughs by 2021.
The plan will allow residents to see a primary care doctor for their healthcare issues, rather than relying on emergency rooms, said the mayor.
There are currently about 600,000 New Yorkers who were not able to be covered under Obamacare, many of them younger people who do not think they need insurance, he added.
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