NYC Health + Hospitals Eliminates Six Month Residency Eligibility Requirement for NYC Care to Ensure All New Immigrants Can Benefit From Immediate Access to Quality Health Care
Reaffirms Commitment to Serve All New Yorkers Regardless of Immigration Status or Lack of Health Insurance; Invites NYC Immigrants to Seek Care Without Fear NYC Care reached its 100,000th member in February; today there are more than 110,000
Apr 20, 2022
NYC Health + Hospitals today announced the elimination of the six-month residency eligibility requirement for the health system’s NYC Care program. 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. With more than 110,000 members, NYC Care 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 across all five boroughs. Starting today, eligible, uninsured adults can call 646-NYC-CARE to see if they qualify for NYC Care membership with proof of an address in the five boroughs. The health system’s facilities do not collect information on a patient’s immigration status and it never releases patient information 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.”
“New York City believes that health care is a human right, and we want anyone who cannot afford or is ineligible for insurance to get the care they deserve,” said NYC Health + Hospitals President and CEO Mitchell Katz, MD. “NYC Care promises new members a primary care appointment within two weeks and access to specialty care if needed.”
“Lifting the six-month residency requirement will allow more New Yorkers who live in the five boroughs to get the care they deserve,” said Acting NYC Care Executive Director Jonathan Jimenez, MD, MPH. “As a primary care doctor at NYC Health + Hospitals, my patients know how important it is to access the care they need. Now on the first day you’re a New Yorker, you can also potentially be an NYC Care member.”
“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.”
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 the way the City’s public health care system connects the most vulnerable New Yorkers to primary and specialty care, regardless of immigration status or ability to pay.
The 100,00 NYC Care member was fifty-four-year-old Jorge Lara. He developed severe arthritis after settling in New York City from his native Ecuador. Lara was forced to quit his job and depended on others for help when his arthritis became debilitating. He was not eligible for health insurance and with no income, could not afford to pay for medical costs out of pocket. He learned about NYC Care from a friend. Lara now receives primary and specialty care, which he credits with a dramatic improvement in his day-to-day life.
NYC Care members speak 46 different languages with Spanish being the most common (60 percent). Other top languages include English, Chinese, Russian and Polish. 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. The program just reached its 100,000th member in February. Those interested in the program can call 646-NYC CARE (646-692-2273).
NYC Health + Hospitals 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 New York City there are over 200 languages spoken throughout the five boroughs. NYC Health + Hospitals invests approximately $10 million annually to provide 24/7 assistance in 200 languages and dialects through telephonic, video and in-person interpretation, including sign-language services, to ensure patients receive safe, quality care in their language. The health system responds to 1 million requests for interpretation services annually, which translates into more than 13 million minutes of interpretation services every year. Evidence shows that health care services provided in the patient’s primary language leads to fewer medical errors and increases medication adherence and compliance with doctors’ recommendations.
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 hospital and clinic facilities, can address matters related to residency, citizenship, visas, and asylum.
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. Referrals to attorneys are typically coordinated by the public health system’s social workers and can be secured within one or two weeks.