| Photo via NYC Care
NEW YORK – A six-month residency eligibility requirement for the health system’s NYC Care Program has been eliminated, the NYC Health + Hospitals has announced. NYC Care is a health care access program that guarantees low-cost and no-cost services to New Yorkers who do not qualify for or cannot afford health insurance.
The program has more than 110,000 members and has become a national health care model that guarantees low and no-cost primary and specialty care services at the public health system’s hospitals and health centers in all five boroughs. NYC Health + Hospitals said that eligible, uninsured adults could call 646-NYC-CARE to see if they qualify for NYC Care membership with proof of an address in the five boroughs. In addition, it assured the public that the health system’s facilities do not collect information on a patient’s immigration status, and patient information is not released without authorization by the patient or without being required to do so by law.
“When we say health care is a right not a privilege in NYC, we point to our public health care system and its health care access program, NYC Care,” said New York City Mayor Eric Adams. “You’re a New Yorker from the first day you move here, which is why we’re removing the six-month eligibility requirement for NYC Care. Diabetes doesn’t wait for six months, why should you wait to get health care.”
NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD, said that health care is a human right. “We want anyone who cannot afford or is ineligible for insurance to get the care they deserve,” Katz said. “NYC Care promises new members a primary care appointment within two weeks and access to specialty care if needed.”
NYC Care became available at NYC Health + Hospitals locations in the Bronx starting in August 2019 and is now available across all five boroughs. NYC Care’s mission is to change how the City’s public health care system connects the most vulnerable New Yorkers to primary and specialty care, regardless of immigration status or pay.
“I applaud NYC Health + Hospitals for eliminating the six-month residency requirement and continuing to lead the nation in recognizing health care as a human right,” said Manuel Castro, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs. “MOIA will continue to work hand in hand with H+H to do the necessary outreach to immigrant communities across the City and connect them to the care they deserve.”
According to NYC Health + Hospitals, the program reached its 100,000th member in February. Approximately 81 percent of current NYC Care members live in the 33 neighborhoods identified by the NYC Taskforce on Racial Inclusion and Equity as hardest hit by COVID-19. Those interested in the program can call 646-NYC CARE (646-692-2273).
NYC Health + Hospitals said it has consistently advocated for immigrant health care and safety. In 2019, the health system, in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs, re-released a joint open letter to New Yorkers in 14 languages making a promise that no one will question their immigration status when they seek care at any of the public hospitals or community health centers across the five boroughs. The letter reaffirmed the health system’s commitment to protecting the immigration status of New Yorkers and urged immigrants to seek care without fear.
In 2019, NYC Health + Hospitals expanded patient access to on-site legal services for immigration issues. This groundbreaking program – the longest-running and largest medical/legal partnership in the country dates back to 2002 – addresses patients’ legal matters and concerns. Lawyers based at the hospital and clinic facilities can address residency, citizenship, visas, and asylum issues.
These services are available at a total of seven patient care sites, which also include: NYC Health + Hospitals/Elmhurst, Kings County, and Bellevue, and NYC Health + Hospitals/ Gotham, Health, Gouverneur, Morrisania, and Cumberland. The public health system’s social workers typically coordinate referrals to attorneys and can be secured within one or two weeks.
–With Jay Domingo/PDM