The Hastings Center and New York Immigration Coalition Advise New York City Mayor on Improving Access to Health Care for Undocumented Immigrants

On April 20, The Hastings Center and the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) released a report, Undocumented Immigrants and Access to Health Care in New York City: Identifying Fair, Effective, and Sustainable Local Policy Solutions,” that offers recommendations to the administration of Mayor Bill de Blasio on expanding access to needed health care for New Yorkers who are undocumented.

The report was written by Nancy Berlinger and Michael K. Gusmano, co-directors of the Undocumented Patients Project at The Hastings Center; Claudia Calhoon, health advocacy senior specialist at the NYIC; and Jackie Vimo, regional advocacy director at the NYIC, and was funded by a grant from the Robert Sterling Clark Foundation. 

“How to treat people when they are sick or injured and how to share limited resources fairly are societal questions that play out every day in hospitals and clinics,” said Berlinger, the report’s lead author. “These questions are especially important in immigrant societies, and in all cities shaped by global migration. New York City’s leadership in addressing these questions is of great significance locally and may encourage other cities to undertake similar initiatives.”

An estimated 500,000 New York City residents are undocumented. About 250,000 of these immigrants are uninsured and lack access to affordable health care because of their ineligibility for most forms of public insurance, making them heavily reliant on insufficient “emergency” provisions. In 2014, the de Blasio administration convened a task force on immigrant health access to identify more effective ways to meet the health care needs of populations left out of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010.

“For too many people in New York City the emergency room is the only entry point to our health care system. We must do more to give them access to primary and preventive health services, and reduce our over-reliance on costly and episodic emergency care,” said Deputy Mayor Lilliam Barrios-Paoli. “The city’s immigrant health task force has been actively discussing strategies to address this problem, and we are glad to see our partners engaged in this conversation – the findings and recommendations in this report are important, and very welcome as we design our map to improve the health of all New Yorkers.”

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