New York City Democratic Mayor Bill de Blasio has proposed a $100 million plan he says will provide affordable “health care for all,”  that will serve about 600,000 people, including undocumented immigrants, low-income residents who aren’t already enrolled in Medicaid and young workers whose current plants cost too much.

The plan, called “NYC Care,” will offer public health insurance on a sliding scale based on income, and will begin later this year in the Bronx before being available to all New Yorkers by 2021. The plan will cost about $100 million once it reaches full enrollment, the mayor’s office said.

Each participant will be assigned a primary care doctor and the city-funded health insurance plan will help people find specialists when needed. NYC Care will be paid for out of the city’s public health budget, and would save money by reducing emergency room visits by uninsured patients and by improving overall public health.

Per Bloomberg:

The program builds upon the city’s $1.6 billion a-year Department of Public Health and Mental Hygiene budget and the separately funded public hospital system, which already serves 475,000 under-insured and uninsured patients annually, including undocumented immigrants, in more than 11 hospitals and 70 neighborhood clinics. The city already has an insurance plan, MetroPlus, that will be used as the template for the coverage. The program may take two years to get “to full strength,” de Blasio said.

The city’s public-hospitals corporation, which was running a deficit approaching $1 billion several years ago, has reduced costs and gained revenue through the Affordable Care Act to the point where it is approaching a surplus this year, de Blasio said.

“It involves taking the money we’re spending right now and using it a lot better,” de Blasio said.

It will be open to anyone who does not have insurance and take advantage of options already available under Medicaid, Medicare and the Affordable Care Act. The goal is to reduce patients’ use of hospital emergency rooms and increase preventive care to reduce serious illness and the need for hospitalizations.

“We wanted one large solution for everyone,” de Blasio said. “We are trying to avoid people getting health care the wrong way.”

De Blasio also took a shot a Republicans for trying to “tear down health care.”

“Republicans in Washington have been trying to tear down health care,” de Blasio said. “We’re doing the opposite.”

When asked why people should pay to insure undocumented immigrants, de Blasio answered: “You can pay me now or you can pay me later. If we don’t help people get the health care, we’re going to pay plenty on the back-end when people get really sick.”

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