January 16, 2013


Judy Wessler,
The Commission on the Public’s Health System

Heather Appel
Committee of Interns and Residents

Thanu Yakupitiyage,
New York Immigration Coalition
212-627-2227 x235
(also available for Spanish)

*Press Release*


Mayoral Candidate Forum Highlights Public Health;

Groups Ask Candidates to Outline their Plans for Improving Health Care in
New York City

Coalition of Groups Calls a Mayoral Candidate Forum

This Wednesday, close to 400 people from diverse communities, including from labor, community, and immigrant rights and advocacy groups, attended the Mayoral Candidate Forum on Public Health to hear about the candidates’ plans on access to care, prevention, wellness, and other health concerns affecting New York communities.

A coalition of more than 20 New York City-based community, academic, professional and labor organizations came together to convene the forum to ensure that issues relating to public health and access to health care are a key focus in the upcoming citywide elections. The candidates invited included Sal Albanese, Tom Allon, Adolfo Carrion, John Catsimatidis, Bill de Blasio, Joe Lhota, John Liu, George McDonald, Christine Quinn, Malcolm Smith, Bill Thompson.

New York City’s public health system is at a major moment of transition with the upcoming implementation of federal health reform and statewide Medicaid redesign.   At a moment when thousands of New Yorkers will gain health insurance coverage through the ACA, the city’s role in protecting the health safety-net for those left uninsured will become more important than ever.  Moreover, the next Mayor will play a crucial leadership role in addressing disparities in access to services and health outcomes across the city’s diverse communities.  Candidates were asked to discuss their visions for the future of public health in New York City, including: how to improve availability of primary care in underserved communities; how they will protect Medicaid funding and revenues and resources for public health initiatives and services; how they will oversee the operations of the Health and Hospitals Corporation;  and how they will shape the roles and priorities for the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene.

Kimberly George, Executive Director, Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition  said, “Electing a New York City Mayor who will give public health policy the attention and importance New York City needs to make it a healthier place for all New Yorkers is critical to our future. The Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition is proud to co-sponsor the NYC Mayoral Candidate Forum on Public Health so that we can all learn more about the candidates’ public health platforms. Our hope is for the election of a mayor who believes that every New Yorker deserves access to quality healthcare and the conditions necessary to live a healthy life”

“Now is the time for Mayoral candidates to voice their vision for New York’s public health system and propose their plans for how to reduce existing health disparities in our city, “ said Chung-Wha Hong, Executive Director of the New York Immigration Coalition. “A healthy New York requires a strong health safety net and equal access to quality health care for all New Yorkers, regardless of race, immigration status, language spoken, diagnosis, or ability to pay. As we move forward with implementation of federal health reform, the city’s role in meeting the needs of immigrants and others who will face barriers to accessing care will be more important than ever. We need leadership from the next Mayor to ensure a healthy New York by pledging to care for all of our city’s residents.”

“The next mayor of New York City will be sworn in on the exact same day that healthcare reform expands coverage to over a million New Yorkers,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kile, Regional Vice President for the Committee of Interns and Residents-SEIU Healthcare and an Emergency Room doctor in Brooklyn.  “The logistical challenges for our providers and our hospitals will come on top of the already daunting public health issue that come being one of the largest and most diverse cities in the world, with so many vulnerable and at-risk populations.  This is our chance to ask the tough questions to make sure the next mayor has a vision to protect and promote the health of all New Yorkers.”

“It is refreshing to see these questions put before the candidates early on in the campaign process.  More refreshing is the inclusion of concern for the healthcare workforce. The public’s health and health care must remain a top priority,” said Mary Mitchell, Executive Director, Manhattan-Staten Island AHEC.

“Too often public health issues get short shrift in discussions at electoral campaign time. This forum brings diverse people and organizations together to ensure that public health is on the radar screen of all candidates, particularly to be Mayor of the city of New York”, said Judy Wessler, Director of the Commission on the Public’s Health System. “Super Storm Sandy reminds us that our health is too important to be ignored.”

Sponsoring Organizations: Brooklyn Partnership to Drive Down Diabetes, Commission on the Public’s Health System, Committee of Interns and Residents, Doctors Council SEIU, Greater Brooklyn Health Coalition, LIU Brooklyn, Manhattan-Staten Island Area Health Education Center, New York Immigration Coalition, New York State Nurses Association, Physicians for a National Health Program- NY Metro, Planned Parenthood of NYC Action Fund, Public Health Association of NYC, Save Our Safety Net– Campaign, Children’s Defense Fund New York, CIDNY, Coalition for Asian American Children and Families, Housing Works, New Yorkers for Accessible Health Coverage, New York Lawyers for the Public Interest, Occupy Open Space, Sex Workers Project at Urban Justice Center, VOCAL-NY, The Women’s City Club of New York (WCC)

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