De Blasio Makes Health Care More Accessible For Immigrant Population


Mayor Bill de Blasio announced a plan yesterday that will make access to health care more readily available to the City’s immigrant population.

Dubbed “Direct Access” the initiative comes after the Mayor’s Task Force on Immigrant Health Care Access found around 63.9 percent, or 345,000, of the City’s undocumented individuals were uninsured in 2013. The uninsured rate for undocumented immigrants is triple that of other non citizens in the City (20%) and over six times greater than the uninsured rate for the City as a whole (10%).

Mayor Bill de Blasio
Mayor Bill de Blasio

“New Yorkers should not be prevented from accessing health care because of a broken federal immigration system. While some in Washington continue to fight against the Affordable Care Act, we are going to expand on it by providing truly universal access to care,” said de Blasio. “We have the greatest public health system in the country, and we will build on the work HHC has been doing for immigrants since its founding to ensure that every New York City resident – young or old, rich or poor – can access the care they need for themselves and their families.”

The Task Force on Immigrant Health Care Access, created in June 2014, brought together City officials, immigrant advocates, public health experts, and health care providers to discuss the state of health care access for the immigrant community in New York City.

Among the major obstacles they found in the way of immigrant access to health care was affordability and language barriers. It also found that immigrants struggled to understand the care and coverage options available, specifically due to the lack of high-quality interpretation and language services and below-average cultural and linguistic competency on the part of health care providers.

In its report, de Blasio promised that, “all New Yorkers will be able to get the health care they need, at a price they can pay, in the languages they speak.”

The “Direct Access” program will begin the spring of 2016, providing access to care for around a thousand uninsured immigrants in the City. The estimated initial cost is about $6 million, partially financed by the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City.

“One of the priorities of the Mayor’s Fund is to discover and implement innovative programs that have the potential to improve the lives of New Yorkers. Evaluating new ways to guarantee affordable, reliable and timely health care services for our immigrant community is exactly in line with our mission,” said Darren Bloch, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Fund.

New York City is one of the first major cities in the country, following in the footsteps of San Francisco and Los Angeles, to expand health care access after the enactment of the Affordable Care Act. Although it is not insurance, this program will expand access and coordination to health care, in the hopes of lowering health care costs and improving the health of the City.