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Health Advocates Praise de Blasio Budget and Call on City Council to Expand Existing Health Programs Even Further


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Press Contact: Anthony Feliciano,  Main Phone: 212-246-0803,  Cell Phone: 646-325-5317, 
New York  (Tuesday, May 13, 2014)

Health Advocates Praise de Blasio Budget and Call on City Council to Expand Existing Health Programs Even Further

New Initiatives Proposed to Inform the Uninsured About New Insurance Options and How to Access Care, Enhance Workforce Diversity, Promote Community-Based Health Planning, and Improve the Health of Child-Bearing Women

(New York, NY) – Members of the People’s Budget Coalition for Public Health (PBC) gathered on the steps of City Hall this morning to respond to Mayor de Blasio’s recently-released budget for the city’s coming fiscal year, and urge that the City Council build on it to address additional unmet needs of New Yorkers.  They laid out broad priorities to guide the Mayor and Council as they now enter into negotiations, to be concluded by the end of June:  community-based health planning, addressing health disparities, expanding the health care safety net, and investing in the city’s municipal hospital and public health system.

“The Executive Budget takes many steps in the right direction, but needs to do more to address the social determinants of health and disparities; and create a health care system rooted in our neighborhoods and communities,” said Anthony Feliciano, Director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System. “A successful health care system results from a prescription that includes access, quality, services, fairness, equity, and community. If one element is missing, the prescription does not work.  Over the years, too many communities have been consistently left out of planning, or left with substandard care, or no care at all.  Often the factors in determining those left behind are income, race, ethnicity, immigration status, disability status, gender, primary language, sexual orientation, and gender identity.  We know the Mayor and Council understand this reality, and urge them to support some of our health priorities to address these problems.”

According to a report released by the Institute of Medicine in 2012, the U.S. spends extravagantly on clinical care but meagerly on other types of population-based actions that actually influence health status far more profoundly than medical services. Consequently, this approach has led America to poor performance in life expectancy and other major health indicators, compared to its global peers.

"We commend Mayor de Blasio and Health Commissioner Mary Bassett for prioritizing public health activities aimed at communities that have the disproportionate share of physical and mental illness and premature death,” said Esther W. Y. Lok, Assistant Director of Policy, Advocacy and Research from the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. “Engaging local residents, community and faith leaders, institutions, unions, and elected officials in the planning process is essential to the expansion of public health initiatives,”

As New York State implements the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and a recently-approved $8 billion dollar Medicaid Waiver, PBC members said it is critical that the City maintains and strengthens a public health care infrastructure that ensures continuous, high quality care delivery to those who are newly-insured as well as those left uninsured. Even with the leveling benefits of federal health reform, many New Yorkers and their communities continue to face disparities in access, distribution, and coordination of health resources.

The group called for the creation of a new “Access Health NYC” program, to provide city funding to community-based organizations to help connect uninsured people to new coverage options and/or access to services.

“While New York has done very well enrolling uninsured people into new coverage options available under the Affordable Care Act, we know there are still hundreds of thousands of uninsured across our city who still haven’t done so,” said Mark Hannay, Director of the Metro New York Health Care for All Campaign.  “On-the-ground community-based organizations are the key to engaging hard-to-reach populations, and they need the resources to go out there and find the still uninsured, inform them about the law, and get them enrolled in coverage, all in culturally appropriate ways.  Unfortunately, the state government chose not to fund community outreach programs, so this is an important gap that our city government can fill to make sure that all New Yorkers get health insurance.”

“Collaborative and culturally appropriate outreach services that connect people with care are very important”, said Suki Terada Ports, Vice President of the Japanese American Association of New York. “In an example of historic significance, Korean and Japanese not-for-profits and an Asian coalition worked together to enable people of Japanese ancestry to obtain health insurance.  Korean Community Services stepped up to the plate to help educate and enroll limited English speaking people in New York and New Jersey because neither state had arranged for a Navigator who spoke Japanese.”

"We applaud Mayor De Blasio for ending the ‘budget dance’, and for investing in areas that are important to immigrant communities like public safety, universal pre-K, and affordable housing" says Steven Choi, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. "We urge the administration to remember that the Affordable Care Act left health care reform incomplete for New York City's undocumented residents.  New York City immigrants and their families have options that they may not know about including services through NYC's Health and Hospitals Corporation facilities, federally qualified health centers, and Emergency Medicaid.  We look forward to working with the administration to educate immigrants in New York City about services and programs that are available to them and to crafting a durable policy solution to facilitate health care access for all New York City residents."

“We are grateful that the Mayor’s budget outlines progressive health measures.  However, more needs to be done to address health inequities and disparities," said Jessica Lee, Interim Executive Director, Coalition for Asian American Children & Families. "Initiatives such as Access Health NYC would greatly expand health access and services to various communities in a culturally- and linguistically-competent manner, while improved community health planning will ensure that those on the receiving end of health programs have greater agency and self-determination of healthcare resources.

The group also called for budget provisions to grow public health care infrastructure from the communities it serves.  They said New York’s health system must serve all New Yorkers; enabling everyone to receive high quality, accessible health care services in their own neighborhoods. The called for the Mayor and City Council to put forward a vision for public health that is rooted in community input, addresses health disparities facing New York’s more marginalized neighborhoods through the stabilization of the safety net, and further build and expand the city’s current public health infrastructure and workforce.

"Being an individual who has worked in Federal, State, City and Privately-Funded Health and Human Services programs, it is glaringly obvious that there needs to be an even larger increase in local control over, and participation in, the decisions around health care resources and public health issues,” said Stephen Beasley, Program Coordinator for CAMBA/Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition.

"We are proud to stand with Mayor Bill de Blasio and with our community and labor allies to end healthcare inequality in our city," said NYSNA’s HHC Executive Council President Anne Bové, RN. "It is imperative that patients and caregivers have a voice in healthcare delivery. Decisions about healthcare must be based on real community needs assessments. This is among the key proposals by the People’s Budget Coalition for Public Health that build on an executive budget that already goes far to address inequality. Together, we can strengthen and protect our public hospital system and ensure that every New Yorker has access to quality care. "

"Thanks in large part to the inclusive approach of Mayor de Blasio toward our safety-net hospitals and the diligent work of healthcare advocates across the City, New York has the opportunity with this year’s budget to address health disparities that have long plagued struggling New Yorkers and focus on meaningful quality improvement measures that matter to our patients and communities,” said Dr, Matthew Hurley, Vice President of Doctors Council SEIU. “We are proud to stand with our partners in the People’s Budget Coalition and look forward to working with health care professionals, community members, patients and Mayor de Blasio to ensure New York City is the best provider of care to our loved ones."

“HIV is an illness that disproportionately affects neighborhoods with larger populations of people of color,” Ms. Lok remarked. "Given the increasing attention paid to biomedical approaches to preventing HIV infection, including pre- and post-exposure prophylaxis, it is crucial that the City provides education and training to both service providers and to individuals at risk of or living with HIV regarding ways for effective uses of these available treatments."

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PBC is an alliance of over 15 community and labor organizations united around preserving and expanding NYC’s public health programs and services.  We believe that improving health status, insurance coverage, and access to services can best be accomplished through a community health planning approach. The community and health care workforce should be the driving and leading force in the process. 



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