Health

A leading voice on health and wellness issues throughout her career, Chris has fought to expand access and improve the quality of care for all New Yorkers. 

As Chair of the Council’s Health Committee, she banned smoking in bars and restaurants, helped lower the City’s infant mortality rate, and created a free discount prescription drug card program. 

As Speaker, Chris:

  • Provided nearly $17.5 million to expand primary care services at clinics around the City.
  • Passed a paid-sick leave bill that will guarantee that an additional one million New Yorkers can take time to care for themselves and their families when they are ill, without fear of losing employment.
  • Passed legislation banning smoking in public parks and beaches as well as the sale of flavored tobacco products that target children.
  • Passed the Clinic Access Bill, making it illegal to obstruct New Yorkers access to reproductive health clinics.
  • Passed Manny’s Law, requiring hospitals to develop a financial aid program for uninsured and underinsured patients.
  • Arranged a public private partnership to provide free HIV rapid testing for thousands of patients at public hospitals.
  • Increased the number of Greenmarkets accepting food stamps in New York City from 6 to 51.
  • Helped enroll 50,000 additional New Yorkers in food stamps by identifying people who likely qualified based on Medicaid status.
  • Used tax and zoning incentives to open and preserve 13 supermarkets in neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food.
  • Brought 500 new fruit and vegetable carts to neighborhoods with limited access to healthy food.
  • Launched the City’s first prescription discount card, which saved $7.2 million on medication for New Yorkers.

As Mayor, Chris plans to:

  • Reduce the cost of coverage by expanding the successful employer-based health care model. As Speaker, Chris partnered with the Freelancers Union to create a new one-stop health clinic for members, based on the successful network of employer-based clinics pioneered by the Hotel Trades Council. This innovative model of healthcare ensures that New Yorkers have access to primary care provided in a patient-centered, coordinated care model while providing real cost savings for both the patient and the health care system. As mayor Chris will work with other public and private employers to expand this model to more workers citywide.
  • Launch a pilot eliminating co-pays for prescription drugs that treat chronic disease. The cost of chronic diseases, such as diabetes, asthma and hypertension, are placing an ever-growing burden on the health system. But when it comes to taking medications that are necessary for controlling chronic disease, patients struggling to make ends meet may cut their dosage, stretch their drug supply over an extended period of time, or not fill their prescription at all. In the long run this raises health care costs, as patients face increased hospital stays, emergency department visits, or additional health complications. As mayor, Chris will work with insurance companies to launch a pilot program eliminating co-pays for prescription drugs for chronic diseases, reducing ER visits, hospitalizations and more expensive treatments associated with later interventions. This model has proven effective by a wide range of organizations, from corporations like Pitney Bowles to large unions like the city’s own Hotel Trades Council and Hotel Association.
  • Establish a mayor’s Office of HIV/AIDS Policy. Chris will return the city to its standing as a nationwide leader in the fight against HIV and AIDS by creating a mayor’s Office of HIV/AIDS Policy. Because the city’s HIV/AIDS related programs and services span multiple city agencies, they can be most effectively coordinated and administered through an office at City Hall. This new office will focus both on prevention efforts as well as treatments and services for those living with HIV/AIDS. It will also ensure that the city is using the very best state- of-the-art prevention and treatment protocols for New Yorkers. Chris will also make sure that HIV/AIDS educational messaging is effectively targeted to all at-risk New Yorkers, including our young people and our seniors.
  • Prevent childhood obesity by requiring food marketed as “Kid’s Meals” to meet nutritional standards. While a host of public health initiatives has helped put childhood obesity in New York City on the decline, obesity among 5 and 6 year olds remains at over 18 percent, and among 7 to 10 year olds it’s over 22 percent. As mayor, Chris’s Department of Health will work with experts to create a nutritional standard for meals that are marketed specifically to children. One possible standard would be modeled after USDA school meal requirements, which limit lunches served in elementary schools to no more than 650 calories, 7 grams of saturated fat, and 740 milligrams of sodium. This requirement would apply to restaurants already required by law to post calorie count. Parents will still be able to order whatever meals they believe are appropriate for their children, but companies will no longer be able to spend millions of dollars on marketing to children or include items on a kid’s menu if those foods lead to obesity, diabetes, and other diet related diseases.
  • Fight chronic childhood diseases and improve student performance, by doubling the number of public schools with School Based Health Centers by 2018. Full service School Based Health Centers are a tremendous resource for students and families, providing an array of services including preventive care, chronic disease management, reproductive health care and education, mental health services, and health education. Currently every school is required to have two Resident Nurses on staff, for an average cost of $200,000. For less than $100,000 more, a school can be equipped with a full service SBHC. By the end of her first term as mayor, Chris will double the number of schools with access to a SBHC, prioritizing schools in high-poverty communities with reduced access to health care services. This is an extremely successful model, shown to decrease absenteeism, promote academic achievement, reduce pregnancies, and lower hospitalization rates for asthma and other illnesses — all while allowing children to remain in school and parents to stay at work.
  • Combat childhood obesity by ensuring physical education is available in every school. Providing students with physical activity and education has been shown to both improve academic performance and combat childhood obesity. But many schools in New York City currently do not meet state physical education standards. As mayor, Chris will ensure that every child in every school receives physical education by requiring that all new schools are constructed with either indoor or outdoor physical education space, helping existing schools forge partnerships with community based organizations that provide creative PE options, and adding PE to school report cards to ensure that these classes are viewed as part of the core curriculum.
  • Stop hunger from interfering with learning in our schools. As a long-time anti-hunger champion, Chris knows that too many children go to sleep hungry every night, even though the federal government provides food programs that allow food insecure children to have regular access to healthy, free meals. As mayor, Chris will expand school meal options so that every child can eat free meals without stigma. She will mandate Breakfast in the Classroom in all low- income schools while encouraging principals to adopt the program citywide. Similarly, Chris will make lunch free for all students in high-need districts, which also reduces the administrative burdens on school staff. She will also launch a pilot of the federally-funded school dinner program, targeting low- income students who are participating in afterschool programming through the community schools model. And she’ll expand the number of schools offering take home weekend meals to students receiving free school food.
  • Reduce high levels of childhood asthma by giving doctors the ability to prescribe home visits. Asthma is a leading cause of school absenteeism and emergency room use, particularly in low income neighborhoods. Community based asthma intervention programs that send health advocates into the home have been found to dramatically reduce emergency room visits and hospitalizations, keep students in school, and allow parents to stay at work. As mayor, Chris will develop a program that enables doctors to provide children with a ‘prescription’ for a visiting asthma prevention program. Targeting those neighborhoods with the highest asthma levels, the program will help eligible families remove asthma triggers in the home and teach children to follow a treatment regimen.
  • Combat teen pregnancy, reduce youth STI rates, and prevent intimate partner violence with comprehensive health education. As mayor, Chris will ensure that the Department of Education’s current comprehensive health education program is applied to students in all public schools. She’ll make sure every school has teachers with the required and necessary training to provide comprehensive health education, and make health ed a factor in school report cards in improve accountability. Chris will make the city a national leader in reducing sexually transmitted infections and unplanned pregnancies, while promoting healthy relationships. 
  • Launch “WrapAround NYC”, a single coordinated program to deliver comprehensive services to at-risk youth. Many of New York City’s most vulnerable youth are those that face a combination of connected challenges: mental illness, drug and alcohol addiction, poverty, physical health issues, and a history of interaction with the criminal justice system. Chris will launch WrapAround NYC, a targeted program to get these high-risk young people the comprehensive services they need to get back on track and avoid incarceration. Through this program, city agencies and community organizations will work together to provide comprehensive health treatment, alcohol and substance abuse treatment, as well as family counseling and therapy. Wraparound service models have been shown to improve health outcomes and school attendance, while reducing rates of incarceration, giving high-risk youth the opportunity get back on a path to success — all while lowering government costs and improving public health and safety.
  • Turn New York City into a beta testing lab for new health data applications. As patient medical records become digitized, there are enormous opportunities for new data technologies that both support public health efforts and lead to job creation in the health tech industry. Members of the tech community can use health data to design new applications that perform any number of functions, like enabling real time communication between patients and multiple health care providers, providing instant notifications about test results, or allowing doctors to set reminders and monitor a patient’s adherence to a medication schedule. Chris’ Office of Innovation will oversee a number of initiatives designed to encourage the creation of new technologies, including funding a health app contest and partnering with local hospitals and healthcare providers to beta test new applications in real world conditions.
  • Reduce maternal and infant mortality rates. Maternity and infancy can be dangerous and sometimes deadly without financial security and the right access to care. As mayor, Chris will increase access to benefits and home based programs for new mothers through targeted outreach programs. She’ll also continue the fight to reduce unplanned and teenage pregnancies by ensuring that kids are receiving comprehensive, scientifically sound sex education, and are taught healthy relationship strategies.

  • Reduce cervical cancer and HPV by increasing HPV vaccination rates for young New Yorkers. The connection between human papillomavirus (also called HPV) infection and cervical cancer has been proven, and a vaccine exists. As mayor, Chris will work with parents to ensure that young people have access to the vaccine both from private doctors and through school based health clinics, and that they are receiving all the doses to ensure maximum effectiveness. Additionally Chris will ensure that boys and their parents are also educated about how the vaccine can prevent cancers in boys.

  • Remove barriers to screening and diagnostic mammography. Studies have shown that there are populations of women, even here in New York City, who do not receive recommended medical screenings for breast cancer. Without early detection, many of these women have disproportionately worse health outcomes. As mayor, Chris will work with both our public and our private facilities to remove the barriers that make it harder for some women to access care. From cultural competency training to making sure our facilities are welcoming to women of different cultural background and sexual orientation and gender identities, to ensuring we have facilities that can accommodate women in wheelchairs, Chris will use work to make sure that every woman in New York City gets the care she needs.