Eric's Healthcare Plan

A Healthier City

Turning around this city starts with taming COVID. We need an all-in effort that restores public confidence as it protects public health. But that same effort should also finally address gaps in healthcare coverage and access in our city. To do that, I will:

  • Strengthen our safety net hospitals as well as our Health and Hospitals system.
  • Increase healthcare coverage through MetroPlus, ChildHealth Plus and for our City workers.
  • Significantly expand COVID testing and resources across the city.

Provide healthcare to every New Yorker who needs it.

This is the worst possible time for New Yorkers to be without healthcare. We must sign up every single person we can for MetroPlus or ChildPlus through NYC Cares. To better cover New Yorkers, we must significantly boost funding for NYC Cares, MetroPlus and ChildPlus and use census outreach infrastructure to expand our contacts with immigrant populations and engage on affordable options with a more robust outreach program.

Ensure City workers do not have to pay more for healthcare.

New York City doesn’t work without our dedicated City workers. And those workers — most of whom are people of color — often live in the areas hit the hardest by the pandemic. We absolutely cannot balance this budget on their backs and leave them exposed to COVID by reducing their access to quality healthcare. To keep our City workers healthy, we must restore temporarily deferred funding to health funds, fully fund healthcare trust funds that are depleted and reject increases to healthcare premiums for workers.

Protect safety net hospitals.

Millions of New Yorkers rely on Health + Hospitals and our safety net hospitals for care–and that system has been at risk of financial disaster long before the pandemic. We also cannot permanently rely on the federal government to bail us out. We need structural support that keeps our safety net strong. Federal funds to fight the virus have kept them afloat for now—but the State must adjust funding to shore them up long-term.

And the City must also do more. We will work with private hospitals to collectively negotiate our agreements with insurance companies for better deals, create an emergency citywide hospital network with private hospitals to distribute indigent patients, co-locate other services, such as affordable housing access, at hospitals and prioritize federal funds for Health + Hospitals programs and locations more equitably. The hospitals will pool those savings and use their greater buying power to lower costs for safety net hospitals that need financial help.

Form a unified citywide hospitals network.

COVID-19 showed us how lack of coordination between our health providers creates inefficiencies and inequities that cost lives. When the system is set up to equitably distribute poorer, uninsured patients, outcomes will improve. We will form a unified citywide hospitals network that coordinates care for indigent patients and shares data for more efficient use of the city’s collective healthcare resources in a crisis across both private and public hospitals.

Significantly increase COVID-19 testing, education and treatment.

During the pandemic, the City relied far too much on private health companies and hospitals to conduct COVID-19 testing and vaccinations. And we have failed to adequately address the lack of information and spread of misinformation in hard-hit lower-income communities — especially those that do not speak English — through credible messengers who can help prevent the spread through education and resources.

We must step up efforts to get those same communities vaccinated as quickly as possible by using an army of messengers to work with local organizations. And let’s put COVID-tasked health workers directly on the ground in dedicated spaces in lower-income areas, including NYCHA, storefronts and pharmacies for an expanded footprint.

Closing Racial Health Gaps

The disproportionately poor health outcomes of people of color in our city is as preventable as it is unforgivable. The City has a moral responsibility to close these racial health caps and I will make it a priority of my administration. To do that, I will:

  • Create permanent health care centers in underserved areas.
  • Launch MyCity to bring resources directly into low-income communities.
  • Treat social issues as part of health care.

Launch MyCity to bring health care resources directly into low-income areas.

There are plenty of City services—but too many obstacles in the way of receiving them. Our MyCity program will give the New Yorkers most in need greater access to services by bringing the City right to their computer, smartphone and doorstep. We will do that by equipping City workers with computer tablets linked to the City’s unified digital platform and send them into the areas of greatest need, and by creating a single online portal for access to all City services, with one common application for New Yorkers to fill out in order to receive City services that can improve their health and welfare.

Make COVID vaccination centers in lower-income communities permanent health centers.

New York should not stop its fight for a healthier city when it defeats COVID. Instead, the City should double the number of vaccination sites it set up in lower-income communities of color by using part of the $6 billion it received from Washington in aid, and then make those sites permanent healthcare centers to close racial gaps in chronic illness rates and access to basic care. And that is exactly what we will do.

Better access to quality, healthy food.

We must stop poisoning our people. Nearly 1 million New Yorkers have diabetes–and the vast majority are people of color. Twice as many Black and Brown New Yorkers have diabetes than white New Yorkers. Shockingly, a large number of diabetics are also children who are poorly served by City agencies with conflicting policies: While our Department of Health fights childhood obesity, the Department of Education feeds our children the food that causes it.

Many lower-income New Yorkers have limited access to quality foods. Instead of empty-calorie and processed foods that impede their ability to thrive my administration will provide all New Yorkers — especially schoolchildren and people in hospitals — better access to quality food through expanded healthy local produce and by growing our own year-round through greenhouses, hydroponics and other non-traditional farming methods.

Treat social issues as part of health care.

Poverty, homelessness, unemployment and food insecurity all directly lead to poor health—yet hospitals are largely unequipped to address those issues. By using the extra capacity in H+H hospitals to co-locate social services, we will address both the social and physical causes of illness, leading to better outcomes and cost savings.

Integrate housing assistance into hospital stays.

Every $1 invested in housing and support is estimated to reduce public and hospital costs by $2 the following year and $6 in subsequent years. That is why we will identify if there are housing issues for each indigent patient and offer direct housing help at hospitals through community-based organizations.

Preventing Illness

More than half of all New York City residents are overweight or obese–especially Black and brown New Yorkers. Our healthcare system must include far more education and resources to promote healthy eating and self-care so we can better prevent illnesses, allowing people to live longer and saving us precious dollars in the long-run that we can put toward improved social services and other investments that improve quality of life. To do that, I will:

  • Provide New Yorkers with much greater access to preventative care at our safety net hospitals and in our Health + Hospitals network.
  • Expand telehealth options for lower-income New Yorkers.
  • Add improved mental health and addiction services where they can be most easily accessed.

Expanding preventative healthcare options.

Our healthcare system should include far more education and resources to promote lifestyle medicine habits, such as healthy eating and self-care, that can treat and prevent illness. We will open additional health clinics like the established at Bellevue Hospital, the Lifestyle Medicine Program, to teach healthy habits, prevent and reverse chronic disease, and promote preventive care.

Expand telehealth to prevent reduce the number of hospital visits.

Hospital costs are rising across New York City. A national study from 2018 found the average cost of an emergency room visit was over $1,700. The study said the average costs of a traditional on-site doctor visit was $146, compared to $79 for a telehealth visit. About 12 percent of white residents here are uninsured while about 20 percent of Blacks and 30 percent of Latinos lack health coverage.

We must expand telemedicine to reduce emergency room overcrowding like we experienced at the height of the pandemic, cut costs — especially for uninsured or underinsured people — and empower patients to take control of their health care.

Address the needs of those living with serious and persistent mental illness. 

Sometimes the best policy is not something new and flashy, but rather to double down on programs with proven track records and expand them. We know, for instance, that the Fountain House model of care — which creates structured therapeutic social settings for members — helps people living with serious and persistent mental illness transition from therapeutic to non-therapeutic settings. Individuals who use Fountain House for residential rehabilitation services are less likely to be admitted to the hospital or to use the emergency department.

Manage our food resources to fight hunger.

There is an overall lack of information of available food resources throughout the five boroughs. Poor communication and information sharing negatively impacts efforts to connect food insecure individuals with SNAP benefits, food pantries, soup kitchens and other food resources; and this is evident now more than ever in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic.

We will form an integrated and community-engaged structure to coordinate food policy in NYC. A critical component of this structure will be to create and maintain easily accessible databases that New Yorkers and public officials can use to monitor and ensure equitable access to nutritious food across all of our communities.

Put substance abuse services where they are needed.

The city has scores of free or low-costs drug and alcohol abuse clinics and treatment centers, but many are not located in areas where they are most needed, and they tend to be clustered around places like 125th Street in Harlem. I will launch a citywide program to evaluate the location of substance abuse clinics and make sure they are adequately spread out to support people in all parts of New York City.

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