Stringer outlines comprehensive 22-point agenda to make New York City the public health capital of the world by stomping out COVID-19, shoring up emergency systems, reorganizing health and hospital leadership, eliminating health care deserts, and confronting our underlying mental health and substance use crises
New Chief Health Officer position would lead the City’s public health efforts, oversee both the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and Health + Hospitals (H+H), and spearhead a multi-agency effort to tackle the largest health challenges facing New Yorkers
— Scott Stringer
“Making New York healthier is a big, complex challenge that requires a mayor with a progressive vision, the management skills to break through the bureaucracy, and the proven record of prioritizing equity so every New Yorker benefits — and I will be that mayor, ready on Day One to move us forward.”
New York, NY – With New York City at a critical juncture in the fight against COVID-19, Comptroller and mayoral candidate Scott Stringer today released a sweeping 22-point vision to bring New York City forward from the pandemic as the public health capital of the world and epicenter of healthcare innovation.
Stringer’s healthcare agenda would end health disparities laid bare by the pandemic — eliminating health care deserts and expanding access to primary care, while addressing the underlying social determinants of health. As Mayor, Stringer would stomp out the lasting impacts of COVID-19 and prepare New York City’s emergency response system for the next crisis. His comprehensive approach will reimagine the city’s healthcare leadership, primary care infrastructure, and approach to physical and mental health to better support the physical and mental health of all New Yorkers.
Stringer proposed a series of measures which include:
- Create a Chief Health Officer to maximize coordination between Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and the New York City Health + Hospitals, and lead a multi-agency approach to tackling pressing public health challenges, requiring every City agency devise a public health plan;
- Address health disparities by making sure no New Yorker has to travel more than 20 minutes to access high-quality primary health care; and
- Center mental health and substance use support in the City’s COVID-19 recovery, focusing on serious mental illness and replacing ThriveNYC with a true, world-class mental health care system.
Comptroller Scott Stringer said: “COVID-19 laid bare the deep disparities that run through our city, and our number one priority must be ending this pandemic by putting the lessons we’ve learned into action right away. We cannot afford to repeat the same mistakes that left so many New Yorkers underserved and overexposed. My plan will tackle the inequities in our healthcare system and the social determinants of health to make sure that we never land in the same position again. My administration will reimagine our public health leadership and ensure a full recovery that also addresses our crises of mental health and substance use. The last year has made painfully clear just how unprepared the City is for a health emergency — and for the pain this inflicted on New Yorkers, especially in our poorest communities and communities of color. Making New York healthier is a big, complex challenge that requires a mayor with a progressive vision, the management skills to break through the bureaucracy, and the proven record of prioritizing equity so every New Yorker benefits — and I will be that mayor, ready on Day One to move us in the right direction.”
Stringer’s plan, “Healing NYC,” is the next part of his mayoral agenda entitled “The Details to Deliver” — highlighting the need for specific, actionable plans to set New York City on a fundamentally new trajectory from the past decade and take the city forward from the COVID-19 pandemic, stronger and fairer than ever before.
Senate Health Committee Chair Gustavo Rivera said: “COVID-19 has taken a toll on every New Yorker, but it has devastated our most vulnerable communities. Scott Stringer understands that at his core. He has a plan to end this pandemic and bring true equity to our healthcare system. When Scott talks about losing his mother and hearing the doctor describe the suffering throughout communities of color in the Bronx and across the five boroughs, I hear someone who knows — not just in his head but also in his heart — how New Yorkers have struggled this year. I have full confidence that through his comprehensive plan to eliminate healthcare deserts, centering equity and mental health in our recovery, and his commitment to fighting for the implementation of the New York Health Act in our state, Scott Stringer is the person to lead our city out of this crisis and into a better future.”
Sen. Alessandra Biaggi said: “Every form of inequity in our city has been magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic. The disparities that exist throughout our healthcare system are the reason that this virus devastated the Bronx and our vulnerable communities. But this pandemic isn’t over, and New York City needs a mayor with a plan to not only end the pandemic but also make fundamental change to fix our broken system. We can’t just recover from COVID — we need to learn our lesson and make the investments to make our healthcare system and our city more equitable. With his plan to eliminate healthcare deserts and take control of our healthcare bureaucracy, it is clear that Scott Stringer is the right leader for New York City’s next chapter.”
Sen. Julia Salazar said: “This pandemic has exacerbated crises in so many areas of our lives, and we need a mayor who will make sure that post-COVID New York City is more equitable. As this plan shows, Scott Stringer is up to the task. The number one priority has to be getting our communities through this pandemic, and Scott has the skills and experience to make that happen. We also need a mayor who can look forward and make big plans to make sure that communities of color and low-income communities are never hit again the way they have been this year, and Scott’s plan is the strongest one I’ve seen from any candidate. We must eliminate healthcare deserts and put the City’s healthcare bureaucracy to work for all New Yorkers. Scott Stringer is the leader to do that.”
Assembly Health Committee Chair Dick Gottfried said: “Scott Stringer is the progressive leader the city needs, and this plan shows exactly why. Scott has taken on the status quo through his entire career, and he is the candidate in this race with a bold vision for health equity and the ability to make it a reality. This work is urgent — the inequities exposed by the pandemic are not new, and we can’t wait another minute to get a leader like Scott Stringer into City Hall to make our city’s health system work for all of us.”
Assemblymember Mathylde Frontus said: “The next mayor’s first priority must be ending this public health crisis. But Brooklynites and New Yorkers have suffered through so much more in the last year than this virus, with months of shutdown and social isolation, strained relationships, and financial challenges. Scott Stringer understands that health is more than just a diagnosis, and he has a plan for a COVID recovery that will ensure New Yorkers get any kind of support they need while making the investments necessary for people in all corners of our city to have access to quality affordable health care. This is the kind of leadership we need for our city, and I’m proud to support Scott Stringer to be our next mayor.”
Assemblymember Yuh-Line Niou said: “We are long overdue for a healthcare system that addresses the systemic racism and institutionalized inequalities that low-income and marginalized communities face in New York. Scott’s comprehensive plan to fully fund and expand our healthcare system prioritizes our frontline workers, transitions community health and safety away from the NYPD, and expands mental and sexual health resources in ways that we cannot afford to wait for. High-quality, affordable healthcare is a human right. In the wake of COVID-19, it is paramount that we start making bold changes right now to ensure that all New Yorkers will experience a just and equitable recovery.”
City Council Health Committee Chair Mark Levine said: “Scott Stringer continues doing what he’s always done: listen to experts and community leaders, make government work more effectively for people, and fight for a fairer New York City. His bold, comprehensive plan shows his clear understanding of the pain working-class communities, communities of color, and immigrant communities experienced over the past year and even pre-pandemic. Eliminating healthcare deserts, prioritizing mental health support, and cutting through the bureaucracy is essential to make our city’s health system work for all New Yorkers; Scott is the leader to do just that.”
As mayor, Stringer would create a Chief Health Officer (CHO) position to lead the City’s public health efforts and oversee both the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) and New York City Health + Hospitals (H+H) — breaking down bureaucratic silos that hampered the City’s pandemic response and spearheading a true multi-agency strategy for tackling the city’s pressing public health challenges. The pandemic has underscored the need for more coordinated and effective leadership to manage the City’s health efforts from mental health to lead poisoning, and the CHO would convene all relevant agencies to collaboratively execute Stringer’s vision for a healthier and more equitable New York City. The agencies would remain independent.
The release of Stringer’s comprehensive healthcare plan follows his proposal unveiled Sunday, April 11, to make historic investments in reproductive health and justice by doubling City funding for abortion care. Stringer’s proposals unveiled today include:
Stamp Out COVID-19 and Better Prepare for the Next Emergency by Making New York City a Leader in Public Health Innovation
- Accelerate the ongoing City response to COVID-19. While the City is making progress in vaccinating New Yorkers, only about 34 percent of the city’s adult population has been vaccinated as of April 15, 2021 — meaning we still have a long way to go. The City’s efforts to vaccinate all New Yorkers must be transparent, efficient and equitable, beginning with those most at risk, and Scott has laid out a series of proposals in his Fair Shot NYC plan to help achieve those goals.
- Make sure we are better prepared for the next public health crisis. COVID-19 has taught the city many painful lessons. To ensure we are better prepared for the next public health crisis, we must strengthen the City’s approach to public health emergency management and preparedness. As mayor, Scott will build culturally and linguistically competent outreach campaigns, strengthen our disease surveillance and epidemiological systems, expand our public health laboratory capacity and emergency stockpiles, ensure safe staffing levels and minimum staffing ratio requirements in healthcare institutions, and triple the number of health and mental health professionals in schools to align with national standards.
- Create the NYC Public Health Corps. In partnership with the Federal Public Health Workforce program recently created by the Biden administration, New York City must expand its capacity to rapidly deploy large numbers of public health workers in response to the next epidemic or emergency in our city — permanently expanding the City’s ranks of DOHMH contact tracers, outreach workers, vaccinators, community health workers and public health nurses and physicians, while also providing incentives for trained medical professionals outside of government to be rapidly “called up” in the event of a mass emergency.
- Establish New York as the global center for urban primary care innovation. To help drive innovation in a way that can be hard to fund with public dollars, Scott will direct the Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City, which raises private dollars for City priorities, to establish a new $30 million grant program to develop on-the-ground solutions aimed at eliminating healthcare disparities and expanding access to preventative care. Our community health clinics can be laboratories of innovation, and they should be given the resources and support they need to develop new ways of tackling old inequities. At the same time, Scott will work with private hospitals to help streamline and support the construction of new, neighborhood-based facilities.
- Honor our healthcare heroes — by listening to them with an annual Health Care Heroes conference dedicated to lessons learned. Scott will launch an annual Health Care Heroes conference to celebrate the physicians, nurses, social workers and public health experts serving New York City’s most under-resourced communities, but also to share their observations and recommendations with other public health experts, practitioners, and City officials. As Mayor, Scott will chair this event each year and use the opportunity to honor health care heroes long after the COVID-19 crisis has been vanquished.
- Take a “health first” approach to community safety by transitioning responsibilities away from NYPD and investing in alternative responses and services. As Comptroller, Scott has been vocal about the need to transition social service challenges away from the NYPD and into the hands of trained professionals in other agencies and community-based organizations with greater expertise. That effort should include a deep historical analysis of 911 calls to better understand the nature, needs, and outcomes of all calls, and to determine which ones would be better served by a non-police response, along with coordinated investments in drop-in centers, respite care, safe havens, and other emergency and non-emergency services to serve people in need.
Coordinate our Healthcare Leadership and Take a Multi-Agency Approach to Tackling Persistent Health Care Challenges
- Create the role of Chief Health Officer of the City of New York to fully align our healthcare and public health leadership. COVID-19 has made it clear that we need both a strong hospital system to treat people when they get sick, but also a well resourced public health department that can prevent disease and respond to immediate health challenges of our city. But the epidemic has shown us that DOHMH and H+H, in particular, are not well coordinated, and the result has been turf wars, delays and increasing overlap in their missions. This cannot happen again. The lives of New Yorkers depend on our ability to protect their health and well-being. Under a Stringer administration, the newly created Chief Health Officer (CHO) will serve as both the CEO of Health + Hospitals Corp (H+H) and commissioner of the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH). The CHO, who will report directly to the Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services, will be responsible for leveraging the full resources of our world-class public health and healthcare agencies, ensuring that efforts to tackle top city-wide health priorities are done in close collaboration, and with a clear view of both the distinct and the overlapping areas of work and expertise of each independent agency.
- Protect communities from losing healthcare access and stabilize H+H’s finances. We need to put H+H on a more stable footing and transform it into an efficient healthcare system that provides the highest quality care and incentivizes people to choose, and to remain, with H+H providers. Scott will use city zoning codes to create “Health Care Only” zones to protect hospitals from speculation, support efforts to improve the City’s publicly-funded managed Medicaid health plan (MetroPlus), and improve internal billing and cost recovery infrastructure at H+H.
- Make New York City a leader in primary care provider recruitment, and provide debt forgiveness for health care professionals in under-served neighborhoods. Scott will direct H+H to triple the size of its Clinical Leadership Fellowship program, work with NYC’s private research hospitals to explore expanding similar post-residency fellowship programs across their systems, and convene a panel of early career primary care physicians to identify how to encourage more medical and nursing students to enter the primary care field. At the same time, Scott will create a City-funded debt forgiveness program, modeled after National Health Service Corp (NHSC), to help repay the medical school loans of health care practitioners who commit to practicing in underserved neighborhoods for three or more years.
Address Health Disparities by Providing High-Quality Affordable Care to All New Yorkers
- Make sure no New Yorker has to travel more than 20 minutes to reach a primary care facility by expanding access to care, especially in communities of color. As mayor, Scott will expand access to primary care and affordable healthcare and expand the number of community-based health clinics by building on the 2015 launch of H+H’s Gotham Health; expand the DOH’s Neighborhood Health Action Centers; provide culturally and linguistically competent community outreach; invest in H+H’s NYC Care, which guarantees low-cost and no-cost services to New Yorkers who do not qualify for or cannot afford health insurance; push the State to expand access to its Essential Plan to all New Yorkers; advocate for the New York Health Act (A.6058/S.5474) in the state legislature and Medicare-for-All on the federal level; and work to expand access to fresh foods and greenmarkets through increased investment in GrowNYC.
- Make New York City a world leader in telehealth services. As mayor, Scott will expand investment in telehealth services in H+H facilities, especially for behavioral health services, which is a main driver of telehealth demand during the pandemic, and push the state and federal governments to make permanent, telehealth reimbursement flexibilities, which have been established temporarily during the pandemic.
- Make every City library a tele-health hotspot. For the 29 percent of New York City households that lack an internet connection at home, Scott will leverage all city libraries as potential telehealth “hotspots” where neighborhood residents can connect in privacy to a healthcare professional, either employed by the City or through an established Community Based Organization, to conduct rudimentary screenings, offer medical advice, provide prescriptions, and coordinate follow-up care.
- Improve quality of care for vulnerable populations. As mayor, Scott will expand models of culturally competent, trauma-informed care for marginalized populations across NYC, including new immigrants, refugees and asylees, and victims of trafficking and/or domestic or other forms of violence, and people involved in our criminal legal system; support State and federal efforts to provide Medicaid benefits to incarcerated people and those leaving correctional facilities, and expand funding for access to primary care for people released from custody in city jails; and build a functioning medical respite system to break the cycle of discharge from hospital to shelter or the street for homeless or unstably housed New Yorkers.
- Strengthen culturally competent healthcare for LGBTQIA populations, especially transgender New Yorkers. As mayor, Scott will expand and invest in LGBTQ+ affirming health care facilities, especially outside of Manhattan; expand transgender healthcare services citywide; and create a citywide Transgender Family and Medicine Center.
- End our maternal mortality crisis. The recently passed federal American Rescue Plan commits new resources to tackling maternal mortality, which Scott will leverage to help create a city workforce of doulas, birth coaches, and community midwives that not only provide home-based and alternative services but also can serve as childbirth advocates for women of color receiving obstetric care through conventional hospital systems in New York City; expand prenatal outreach programming for at-risk mothers like GrowingUp NYC and Healthy Start; invest in a workforce of community maternal health workers who can connect women to prenatal and obstetric care, follow them throughout their pregnancy, and provide continuity of care for a year postpartum; and invest in improved maternal health surveillance and data collection from our public and private hospital systems, along with a system of accountability and performance monitoring and incentives for hospitals based on these metrics.
- Make historic investments in reproductive and sexual health. In line with the proposals released on Sunday, April 11, as mayor, Scott will double New York City’s direct funding for abortion care, strengthen education around sex and healthy relationships in schools, expand access to contraception in schools and in school-based health centers, expand H+H policy to integrate abortion care into standard residency training, protect reproductive health care access by fighting fake clinics and enforcing NYC’s Clinic Access Law, expand eligibility for prenatal services and promote healthy pregnancies, triple the number of DOHMH Sexual Health Clinics, increase funding for reproductive health care providers, advocate at the federal level for national policies to protect abortion rights, and help New Yorkers parent with dignity if they choose to.
Truly Prioritize the City’s Mental Health and Substance Use Crises
- Dismantle THRIVE to expand access to comprehensive mental health care. Scott will dismantle the ThriveNYC structure and rebuild mental health programs under the auspices of the Chief Health Officer, who will make improving mental health services one of the key strategic health priorities of the city, coordinating all city agencies around common goals, with strict accountability built in for monies spent and outcomes achieved. We will expand access to care in our frontline healthcare system by revitalizing the Mental Health Service Corps (MHSC) program, advocating to make permanent State and federal regulations on telemental health, expanding availability of telemental health services in the H+H system, providing mental health services through the H+H system for all frontline healthcare workers and other essential workers, and expanding the licensed behavioral health peer workforce within H+H.
- Refocus on serious mental illness (SMI). Less than 13% of Thrive funding has gone to people with serious mental illness, who are one of the most vulnerable, marginalized, and socially isolated communities in New York City. There are nearly 240,000 people living with serious mental health challenges in NYC, and approximately 40% receive no known treatment at all. We must invest in access to community psychiatrists and supportive behavioral health housing, in partnership with the state, but also by committing to long-term models of community recovery and rehabilitation, like Fountain House, which has a proven, 70+ year track record of success in allowing people with serious mental health challenges to recover in the community and rebuild their lives. To start, Scott will build and expand Fountain House clubhouse programs in all five boroughs, targeting communities with the greatest needs and rates of psychiatric hospitalizations, homelessness, and incarceration.
- Address the social and emotional health needs of students with real, on-the-ground professionals in every school. As mayor, Scott will significantly expand school-based mental health services; staff every public school with full-time mental health professionals, including social workers and school psychologists, to achieve the national-standard ratios of 1:250; expand small social emotional learning advisories in all middle and high schools; provide regular training for school-based staff and students; and invest in suicide awareness and prevention programs.
- Transform our mental health crisis response system. As mayor, Scott will move the responsibility for responding to mental health crises away from the NYPD to trained health-first crisis response teams; make New York City a leader in implementation, education, and awareness of the federal 988 suicide prevention program coming in 2022; and expand funding for pre-crisis preventive and post-crisis recovery programs
- Expand behavioral health supportive housing. As mayor, Scott will work with the state to expand our supportive housing network by an additional 30,000 beds over the next 10 years to meet the growing need, create single points of access for individuals who need supportive housing, change regulations that create unrealistic demands and litmus tests for vulnerable people who just need a roof over their heads, and work with State and federal partners to create a new local supportive housing plan.
- Fight the opioid epidemic. As mayor, Scott will invest in evidence-based prevention and harm reduction programs in schools, hospitals, and communities; enhance education and awareness programs focused on fentanyl; develop multilingual, culturally-competent education campaigns; improve data sharing, education, and guidelines to influence opioid prescribing practices; expand Healing NYC, expand NYC Relay program to all hospitals in New York City, work closely with State authorities to expand access to medication-assisted therapy (MAT) for opioid dependence; build safe consumption sites in south Bronx, Manhattan, and Staten Island; and expand access to treatment, housing and supportive services.
To read the full Stringer healthcare plan, click here.
Scott Stringer was born and raised in Washington Heights. He attended P.S. 152 on Nagle Avenue and I.S. 52 on Academy Street. He graduated from John F. Kennedy High School in Marble Hill and John Jay College of Criminal Justice in Manhattan, a CUNY school.
Stringer was elected City Comptroller in 2013. Prior to serving as Comptroller, he was Manhattan Borough President from 2006 to 2013 and represented the Upper West Side in the New York State Assembly from 1992 to 2005. He and his wife, Elyse Buxbaum, live in Manhattan with their two children, Max and Miles.