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Op-Ed By Tiffany Cabán: New York City’s Healthcare System Must Be Proactive, Not Reactive

Tiffany Caban (Photo: CabanForQueens)

Feb. 6, 2021 By: Tiffany Cabán

New York City is facing an unconscionable health crisis.

Twenty hospitals have closed over the last decade, most of them safety net institutions here in Queens that serve the un- or underinsured. Meanwhile, the City spends $12 billion more on incarceration and policing, than it does on care and supportive services.

But numbers cannot even begin to convey the devastating degree to which our health system fails us. That three by six-foot hospital mattress that is needed and managed and visited by so many people over a single day, becomes something much bigger: it captures all matters public and private, of dignity and disgrace, for this generation and the next.

Right now, thousands of people are left on their own to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and the economic disaster it has caused. If you have a bad back and your kitchen light goes out – tough. If you fall while trying to replace the bulb, and you’re un- or underinsured – tough.

This tough-on-care mindset is the same one that pervades thinking across our government. It leaves people suffering and isolated. It causes a collective hopelessness and despair.

We need a proactive healthcare approach that aims to meet the needs of everyone – from the chronically ill to the healthiest individuals. The reactive approach we currently rely on in healthcare has led to inequities in all of our institutions.

This system has driven mass incarceration and disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities. Those disparities were abundantly clear when COVID-19 hit New York City. At a time when a pandemic has exacerbated every existing social inequity, it’s time for a paradigm shift.

We have to remember: What happens to one of us happens to all of us. Where you live shouldn’t determine whether you live.

In this unprecedented moment, we must make an unprecedented movement toward justice.

As we roll out vaccines as rapidly as possible, we must also take specific steps to build a more resilient city. That means taking steps to both build out the number of hospitals and beds that we have, while also setting up neighborhood-level comprehensive healthcare services, which include mental healthcare and peer support.

We need to create more capacity and to build infrastructure to adopt a proactive healthcare approach.

We need community safety centers with local clinics that include healthcare responders, de-escalation experts, peer support, holistic services, civilian crisis teams and trained door-to-door support providers hired from local communities, all backed by universal health insurance coverage.

We need integrated service facilities in every neighborhood that offer communities quality and accessible care including substance use treatment and overdose prevention programs as well as comprehensive legal support, including when healthcare issues arise.

We need a vaccine program that reaches the places most impacted by COVID-19. Vaccines only work if they can reach people and if people agree to get them. Rapid vaccination programs staffed by people from our communities with full accessibility and language justice that identifies and proactively reaches out to every person living in our city in order to maximize our vaccinated population is essential to creating public awareness and demand.

The rollout of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics should strengthen the broader healthcare system – not strain it. Community networks need to be prepared to fully administer and utilize COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and other essential tools to stop the spread of this virus.

We can do this. We can take those steps. We can build those systems.

A community leader at Astoria Houses recently told me, “We say it takes a village to raise a child – but who is taking care of and uplifting the village?” That is the role of government in our society, and it’s time for our government to step up and take care of our village, so we can take care of our people.

A care-based economy would fully fund good-paying union jobs for people from communities to take care of each other. It would mean people could be paid to go door-to-door to address daily healthcare-related needs, from chores that are physically harder for some people based on circumstances, to preventative routines like healthy food provision and wellness checks.

This isn’t a wishful framework. This is based on what is working already, and can be a reality right here.

It would mean that everyone has access to the healthcare they need – including mental health. These essential services should no longer be a privilege or a luxury.

It would mean a more resilient healthcare system, more capable of meeting the systemic shocks that this century might bring, and more prepared to prevent harm.

It would mean an economy rooted in caring for one another, where success is conditioned in the opportunity, stability and well-being of the most vulnerable among us.

It would mean we, the people, getting the system we deserve.

email the author: [email protected]

9 Comments

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Julie

North Western Queens voted for her overwhelmingly for Queens Borough President. The other candidates for Astoria city council do not have a chance against her. Astoria loves her. She will win.

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Free the criminals, get Free Healthcare!

I agree , if violent criminals and thugs would just behave we would have a ton of money (tax payer money not FREE money) to pour into the public healthcare system, but we just can’t catch a break.

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Gardens Watcher

New York is allowing anyone who doesn’t have health insurance to enroll in a plan through NY State of Health or directly through an insurer. The Open Enrollment Period has been extended again, and is currently scheduled to continue through March 31, 2021.

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Kb

Allowing? Enroll? That’s yesterday talk. Our progressive platform would pass the bill that would make all police officers write you a health insurance instead of a ticket. Traffic stop? Health insurance enrollment.

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Margarita

Those healthcare programs are still not affordable for many New Yorkers unless you qualify for no cost Medicaid. All healthcare cost have risen. Many people have co pays, deductibles and cost sharing for most visits and procedures. Also many doctors and specialists do not take those insurances so people end up skipping preventive care and end up in the ER for care. Btw you have to make less than $17000 something a year to qualify for full Medicaid. This leads many people not to make more money so they do not lose their benefits. A small increase in yearly salary is not worth losing your full coverage.

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Gardens Watcher

Emergency room care is the most expensive type of heathcare. It is not free.

Lower-income people who don’t qualify for Medicaid or Child Health Plus may qualify for the Essential Plan. Premiums are either $20 a month or NOTHING. No deductible, free preventative care, and more. For other type of plans, depending on your income, tax credits are available to help pay for monthly premiums.

New York State’s Health Plan Marketplace help line is 1-855-355-5777. Enroll by Feb. 15 for coverage starting March 1.

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Sarcastic Pessimist

First, I will address the topic. Then dissect some of her heartfelt thoughts. If the government gave the responsibilities of handling the distribution of the COVID vaccine to the hospitals, this wouldn’t be a problem. But the new (Biden/Harris) and old regimes (Cuomo/De Idiot) wanted to be the heroes in the eyes of the public. So what happens, they promise unrealistic vaccination numbers for the people. And with the incompetence of the government there is massive confusion and the masses, especially those that are at high risk don’t get vaccinated. Who is to blame? The scapegoat for the Democratic Party for the next 50 years, Queens’ own Donald J. Trump, of course. Yes, Trump’s response to the whole pandemic was a failure, but it was his fault for the distribution of the vaccine? If given the opportunity, the hospitals would have given the proper care with the proper follow-ups while providing people who were uninsured some sort of insurance so they can have the opportunity to manage their health. Healthcare is still a business, and the more people under your care, you will make more money. The health system didn’t fail us, it was the government.

“Twenty hospitals have closed over the last decade, most of them safety net institutions here in Queens that serve the un- or underinsured. Meanwhile, the City spends $12 billion more on incarceration and policing, than it does on care and supportive services.”

You must be too young to remember the 80s where crime and drugs were running rampant. If the push for policing wasn’t done, NYC’s resurgence during the 90s would have never happened where tourism was at its peak as crime was at its low. Times Square and LIC used to be full of prostitutes and drugs, but are now some of the best real estate in the city. Not until De Idiot took over, as both are now being taken over by the homeless. As far as the closed hospitals, it was the people and the government who they were caring for who got them closed. Illegal aliens getting free care as well as the uninsured not paying their medical bills, and yes the government’s subsidized insurance all helped bankrupt these hospitals. Ask anyone in the medical field how much medicare reimburses and you can see how these hospitals cannot stay afloat. Now you want more hospitals, but on whose dime? Who can sustain these facilities with universal medicare? And for illegals? Legalize them so they can have the government can pay for their healthcare… again! Your universal healthcare will only cause long lines, long waits, lack of medical supplies, dirty facilities, low standards in care and more importantly over worked and underpaid medical professionals. As far as incarceration and arrests, the “oppressed” black and brown communities are now benefiting from crimes that are no longer penalized the way they should be, which has the quality of life plummeting. Graffiti, the homeless, the stench of marijuana and urine is plaguing our streets and neighborhoods. Who failed us.. liberal laws. And who has to pay for the graffiti clean up and the cleaning of the streets, business owners and yes tax payers.

“This system has driven mass incarceration and disproportionately impacted Black and brown communities. Those disparities were abundantly clear when COVID-19 hit New York City. At a time when a pandemic has exacerbated every existing social inequity, it’s time for a paradigm shift.”

More divisiveness from a liberal, isn’t this an oxymoron. The pandemic hit everyone, regardless of race or socioeconomic status. Some people aren’t as vocal and like to complain and keep on striving. The incarcerated black and brown community benefited as some of them were released by the hapless mayor because of COVID in the jails just to rescind and commit more crimes. The biggest group that was impacted negatively during this time were Asians and Asian Americans who are still to this day are victims of hate crimes. You can put some of the blame on Trump for this for coining the “Asian Flu” but who are the main perps to these crimes. Not being a racist, look at all the news clips. Look at the poor Asian man who was slashed from ear to ear. You can’t blame social inequality for this crime. The perp had a designer mask and was dressed better than his poor victim who seems to be trying to make ends meet as he was working two jobs. All the while, the media states that this man has to be mentally disturbed, giving him a scapegoat for his crime. Classy. But this is the type of non-sense you see that will be swept under the rug! This is the same ignorant black and brown community who vote for progressives such as yourself by promising them the world and enabling them to not feel any culpability for their actions. And as Senile Joe says “You ain’t black if you don’t vote for me!” Asians wake up! You too Indian Americans (yes I know you are classified as Asians), Russian Americans, Arabic Americans!!! The progressive disease is already poisoning the educational well here in NYC. The best high schools, middle schools, G&T programs have been attacked by the little progressive school chancellor. Even though you did your best to help your kids to get good grades, their chances will lessen because of one sided “systemic racism.” And unfortunately the standards for the NBA won’t be lowered so your kids won’t have a better chance of making it in basketball. But it will be OK. If your kids are forced to work menial jobs, the progressives will make sure they will be paid well in the name of equality, if they get their support.

“A community leader at Astoria Houses recently told me, “We say it takes a village to raise a child – but who is taking care of and uplifting the village?” That is the role of government in our society, and it’s time for our government to step up and take care of our village, so we can take care of our people.”

The role of the government is not to decide what your income is and what your level in society is. The individual is. Each individual is responsible for uplifting the village. If people took responsibility for themselves, instead of asking for everything handed to them then the village and society will grow. It is true you have to help your fellow man, but up to what point? You want the government to wipe you clean after going to the bathroom? Enabling and entitlement destroys a village. How can a village grow, if there are certain villagers who work hard, while there are some villagers who aren’t willing to handle their own load? But I see this is the goal of progressives. You want the middle class to breakdown and give up and accept your ideas. For far too long the middle class has been abused by both parties, especially now by the far left. NYC was built on the backs of the middle class. Who else pays for public schools, public hospitals, affordable housing, and welfare? The middle class have toiled to reach the levels of the upper class, sacrificing to better themselves and pave the way for their kids to achieve a life better than theirs. But this thinking is being defunct by progressives who want equality and equity (the new it words for the progressives) not through merit or hardwork, but by the color of your skin.

“A care-based economy would fully fund good-paying union jobs for people from communities to take care of each other.”

Unions… enough said. Care based? What makes a happy flowing society? Jobs and capitalism.

What progressives are doing is pretty much what mainstream Democrats have been doing for the past 50-60 years. Promising certain populations “freedoms” and “opportunities” while realistically keeping them down, brainwashed just for their vote. Equity and equality… not for everyone in the progressive view.

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She’s absolutely right!

A lot of solid wishful thinking. We should do all those things that you described, Ms Caban. But unless you can shake the money tree or have access to a toilette paper roll made out of dollar bills, we have to raise cash somehow. Unfortunately, you’re not the only leftie in town with union reps waiting for handouts. We need to fix infrastructure, mta, schools, homelessness, systemic racism… and the only source of cash we have is the police department budget.
Unless, maybe you can create more jobs? Ask a global corporation to move in and collect payroll and income taxes? No, nothing comes to mind, you are right.
Well, thanks God we have millions of people earning $50k or more in this town. Let’s raise taxes for them, I’m sure they won’t move away. Or create new taxes, on car owners for example. Or on crossing the bridges to manhattan, $50 one-way is a fair charge.

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