Brooklyn Lawmakers on the Move Dec. 13, 2019

News Site Brooklyn

NYC Care Program Brings New Yorkers Affordable Health Care

NYC Health+Hospitals announced Thursday that NYC Care, a health care access program that is a key component of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s commitment to guarantee accessible and affordable health care for all New Yorkers, has enrolled more than 10,000 New Yorkers in the Bronx since its launch in August, two months ahead of the projected schedule. To date, all new members were offered a primary care appointment within the first two weeks of enrolling. After its successful implementation in the Bronx, NYC Care will launch in Brooklyn and Staten Island in January 2020 and will be available citywide by the end of next year.

Assemblymember Joseph Lentol
Assemblymember Joseph Lentol

“Having access to quality and affordable health care means that New Yorkers will be able to lead healthier lives. This means prioritizing preventative care while also reducing unexpected and sometimes costly visits to the emergency room. With health insurance being one of the biggest expenses for New Yorkers, the expansion of NYC Care will go a long way to ensure access to quality and affordable health care. I applaud Mayor de Blasio and NYC Health and Hospitals for their dedication to this important issue,” said Assembly Member Joseph R. Lentol (D-Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Fort Greene).

NYC Care is the new no- or low-cost health care access program of NYC Health+Hospitals for New Yorkers who are not eligible for insurance or who cannot afford it. The program is expected to dramatically change the way the City’s public health system connects people to personalized, coordinated primary and preventive care at its 70-plus patient care locations throughout the five boroughs. NYC Care offers affordable medications day or night, culturally responsive care, extensive language access and interpretation services, and provides new 24/7 customer service support.

“In the world’s wealthiest nation, no person should ever have to choose between taking their child to the doctor and putting food on the table, said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “In New York City, we are making this right a reality, and providing low-cost affordable, healthcare to all those who need it. With over 10,000 Bronxites now enrolled in NYC Care, we are showing firsthand what it means to be a City that puts working people first.”

Through the program’s extended pharmacy hours, members have filled over 14,000 prescriptions in the program’s extended pharmacy hours in just the first four months, most commonly for prescriptions to treat diabetes and hypertension, conditions that require timely medication management and adherence.

“Healthcare is a human right, and I support the Mayor’s office’s efforts to help vulnerable New Yorkers access healthcare. I am excited to see Brooklynites benefit from NYC Care and look forward to working with the Mayor’s office to make this program as successful as possible,” said State Senator Julia Salazar (D-Bushwick, Cypress Hills, Greenpoint and Williamsburg, Bed-Stuy, Brownsville, East New York). “I hope that this program will be a first step towards universal healthcare that is free at the point of care in New York City and New York State.”

Eligible New Yorkers can enroll by calling 646-NYC-CARE to meet with a financial counselor at a health system patient care site.

Espinal Applauds $1 Million Plan to Feed CUNY Students

New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson (D-Chelsea, Hell’s Kitchen, Greenwich Village, West SoHo, Hudson Square, Times Square, Garment District, Flatiron, Upper West Side) and City University of New York (CUNY) Chancellor Félix V. Matos Rodríguez announced a $1 million pilot to address food insecurity among CUNY students. The program, which starts at CUNY’s seven community colleges, is part of the Speaker’s multi-pronged approach to stemming food inequity in New York.

Council Member Rafael Espinal
City Council Member Rafael Espinal

“Almost half of college students are food insecure, and this hunger crisis perpetuates poverty in New York City. Here, and anywhere in the world, these conditions are unacceptable. Without nutrition students can’t perform. And our city’s youth not only deserve a proper education, but they deserve to eat and to eat well. In the Council, we have to step up in our role to address this crisis,” said Council Member Rafael Espinal (D-Cypress Hills, Bushwick, City Line, Ocean Hill, Brownsville, East New York).

In the fall and spring semesters, 1,250 qualifying students, including CUNY Dreamers, those with Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) status, will get $400 that they can spend in campus cafeterias. The students were selected from a pool of low-income students who met the basic eligibility criteria. 

Students are given $400 vouchers or swipe cards – equivalent to three $10 meals weekly for 13 weeks – to spend on any food items in participating cafeterias. One survey of CUNY students found that nearly half of respondents said they had been food insecure in the prior 30 days.

“College student hunger is a serious problem in New York City. CUNY students should be focused on learning and studying, not where their next meal is coming from. We are one of the richest cities in the world but too many New Yorkers don’t have equitable access to healthy food. The Council is proud to fund this pilot so that more students have access to food instead of skipping meals to survive,” said Speaker Johnson.

The Speaker’s pilot builds on CUNY’s efforts to guide more students to available resources and address food insecurity. These efforts range from opening food pantries or offering food vouchers at all 18 undergraduate colleges to growing food on three campuses, including Kingsborough’s quarter-acre Urban Farm that produces thousands of pounds of fresh organic produce each year to distribute to students in need.

Gounardes Releases Transit Report 

New York State Senator Andrew Gounardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park) released a southern Brooklyn transit report, a first-of-its-kind look at southern Brooklyn’s unique concerns and difficulties with public transportation. The report, drawn from a survey of southern Brooklyn commuters distributed online and at every subway and commuter bus station in the district, demonstrates the harsh realities of long and unpredictable commutes for southern Brooklynites and outlines Senator Gounardes’ strong efforts and commitment to improve public transportation in southern Brooklyn and across the City.

State Senator Andrew Gounardes
State Senator Andrew Gounardes

“This report confirms what we know to be true: Southern Brooklynites deserve better public transportation. These challenges have been ongoing for decades and it’s time that our city take a stark look at what we will need to do to transform our public transportation system. Whether through long and indirect commutes or poor service, southern Brooklyn’s public transportation problems take a major toll on our neighborhoods. In addressing the many needs and issues of New York City’s transportation network, outer-borough communities must not be forgotten. As we fight to fix the MTA, it’s vital that we prioritize what riders want: more and better service for all,” said Gounardes. “I’m glad to amplify the voices of commuters in my district who are crying out for change.”

Analysis of the subway lines serving southern Brooklyn demonstrates consistently worse terminal on-time performance than the Citywide average. Train riders reported that they are always or sometimes late to their destination, and said that the transit improvement they most sought was more frequent service. In Marine Park and Gerritsen Beach, neighborhoods with less access to the subway, 50% of the respondents had a commute of more than an hour, and half of all respondents had to transfer from the bus to the subway.

Rose Helps Pass Historic Legislation to Lower Drug Costs

U.S. Rep. Max Rose (D-South Brooklyn, Staten Island), a former non-profit healthcare executive, voted Thursday to pass historic legislation to lower the costs of prescription drugs for Americans. H.R. 3, the Lower Drug Costs Now Act, would lower prescription drug prices through direct negotiation, and includes Rose’s More Help for Seniors Act, which uses savings from negotiations to lower Medicare Part D costs for low-income seniors.

Max Rose
U.S. Rep. Max Rose

“Today, Big Pharma loses, and the American people win—because what we’re doing is giving Medicare the power to negotiate skyrocketing costs of prescription drugs,” said Rose in a speech on the House floor prior to the vote urging passage. “This historic legislation creates new out-of-pocket limits on prescription drug costs for Medicare beneficiaries, it reinvests savings so that we can create new breakthrough treatments and cures, and it provides $10 billion in funding to combat the opioid epidemic. For decades, Big Pharma and Corporate PACs could count on their lobbyists and politicians to keep them safe at the expense of the American people. Not anymore. Today, the American people win.”

Earlier this year, Rose hosted a roundtable with Brooklyn seniors from the AARP Bay Ridge Chapter 3630 where he outlined his proposals to take on pharmaceutical companies to lower prescription drug prices. The Lower Drug Costs Now Act levels the playing field for American patients and taxpayers. 

The bill ends the blanket ban on Medicare negotiating directly with the drug companies and creates powerful new tools to force drug companies to the table to agree to real price reductions. The legislation ensures seniors will never lose access to the prescriptions they need and makes the lower drug prices negotiated by Medicare available to Americans with private insurance, not just Medicare beneficiaries. It also provides $10 billion in funding to combat the opioid epidemic.

For the 102,321 seniors in New York’s 11th Congressional District enrolled in a Medicare Part D plan and the 483,886 individuals enrolled in private health insurance, this legislation will deliver substantial savings that will make a real difference in their lives. Additionally, the legislation’s expansion of Medicare coverage for dental, vision and hearing services represents significant out-of-pocket savings for New York seniors.