The program, "Lincoln Art Exchange," is designed to address the growing number of independent and freelance artists who cannot afford to enroll in health insurance plans and have become an at-risk population that lacks access to quality health care.
Joining Miranda to launch the program were hip-hop artist Roxanne Shante; Iris Jimenez-Hernandez, New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation (HHC) senior vice president and Lincoln Hospital executive director; Alan D. Aviles, HHC president and CEO; and representatives from arts and philanthropy organizations such as The Actors' Fund, The Bronx Council on the Arts, the Bronx Museum of the Arts, Teatro Pregones and Comunilife.
"I am pleased to announce that, as of January 2012, uninsured New York City artists will be able to trade their artistic talents for health care at Lincoln Hospital," said Jimenez Hernandez in a statement. "This invaluable initiative is an effort aimed at reducing health disparities and improving health outcomes among our artists. In this effort, the collective participation of our partners is an important element in identifying and recruiting artists that will benefit from our program."
"This is an exciting, potentially win-win venture for both New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and the artistic community," added In the Heights creator Miranda. "There are many uninsured artists in New York City, and to be able to contribute their creativity and talents at Lincoln Hospital while simultaneously gaining access to medical care, is ingenious."
Through the "Lincoln Art Exchange" program, rather than paying for health care out-of-pocket, artists may pay through an art exchange barter system. For example, for every hour of performance, creative activity or service, the artist earns 40 "health credits" (the equivalent of $40) toward medical care. Eligible artists — ranging from actors, musicians, dancers, poets, writers and anyone making a living through a creative means — can access an array of services, including doctor visits, laboratory tests, hospitalizations, emergency care, medical and surgical procedures, dental care, prescriptions, ambulatory surgery and other services provided by the hospital. Eligibility will be based on the HHC Options program. Once enrolled in the program, artists will participate in activities throughout the hospital, such as reading to patients, performing at hospital special events, painting murals in clinics and in-patient units, art gallery presentations and other events that will enhance the hospital environment and the patient and staff experience.
First initiated at Woodhull Hospital in Brooklyn in 2005, Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center is the second HHC facility to implement the program and the only one in Bronx County.
Artists who are interested in joining or need more information can call the Art Exchange Program at 855-LIN-ARTS (546-2787) and speak with program coordinator Colette M. Barrow or visit www.nyc.gov/hhc/lincolnartexchange.