"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

 must arm themselves with the power which knowledge gives."

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

Corzine Care: The Numbers Just Don’t Add Up

Curtis Fisher has posted a response to the many questions that have been raised about what we have dubbed Corzine Care. We believe Fisher has raised more questions than he answers in his post on the Corzine Connection blog. He has also failed to link to any information that would allow independent verification of information he cites in his response.

Fisher states we are paying for the 1.2 million NJ citizens who are uninsured and that these folks often have chronic illnesses and end up seeking treatment in costly emergency room visits.

According to a State of New Jersey report, one-half of the uninsured (600,000) are in good or excellent health. (All uninsured statistics cited are from a New Jersey State report prepared under the direction of Jim McGreevey in 2003 and may be read here)

How much do New Jersey taxpayers currently pay for New Jersey’s uninsured health care? Fisher says “this year the state provided hospitals with $582 million for "charity care". How much of the $582 million tab for "charity care" would the state save under Corzine Care? Fisher doesn’t provide us with an estimate. Perhaps he can tell us the number he used to develop the Corzine Care plan. Until then, the “savings” for charity care are unknown.

Did you know that sixty percent (720,000) of New Jersey’s uninsured are adults between the ages of 19 and 45 and that some may have chosen to forego purchasing insurance because they don’t perceive the need for insurance? Foolish perhaps, but certainly a sizable number of people that can well afford to pay for their own medical insurance.

How many of the uninsured are uninsured by choice – those eligible for insurance through their employer, but that choose not to pay for coverage? We don’t know the number, the state report acknowledges the category exists, but the actual number was unknown and Mr. Fisher has no way to calculate the number. So the number in this category remains a big question.

Would Corzine force these people to purchase insurance from their employer or would they be eligible for coverage under the “free”, “bulk rate” or parent’s employer plan? Fisher doesn’t tell us.

Would it surprise you to learn that one-half (600,000) of New Jersey’s uninsured have annual incomes between $20,000 and $50,000; and that twenty-five percent (300,000 ) earn more than $50,000 per year? What are the income guidelines for Corzine Care? We don’t know and Fisher doesn’t provide us with this information.

So who are the 770,000 uninsured in need of more accessible and more affordable health care according to Senator Corzine?

According to Fisher, Corzine Care would add about 200,000 children and pregnant women to the traditional FamilyCare system. There are currently 229,743 children and adults in the Family Care program at a cost of $330,778,000.

How is it possible to nearly double the number of people covered at no additional cost to the taxpayers? Are there no additional administrative and premium costs involved with this increase? If the taxpayers aren’t paying for the coverage, who is?

How would the state’s eligibility requirements be changed to include these people? Did you know that households that earn as much as $101,995 per year are currently eligible for New Jersey’s FamilyCare and that only monthly income, not assets, are considered when determining eligibility for the program? Did you know that U.S. citizenship is not required for coverage under FamilyCare?

We would be interested in learning the changes in eligibility Corzine would implement to add 200,000 people. Perhpas Fisher can let us know.

According to Fisher, Corzine Care would also require companies to offer coverage to about 370,000 uninsured 19-30 years olds, through their parents' health insurance plans.

How many 19 – 30 year olds are currently eligible for health insurance through their employer, but choose not to purchase coverage? Why should these people be eligible for coverage under their parents’ plans?

How many 19 – 30 year olds, looking to save money, would drop their own coverage in favor of Corzine Care through their parents’ plans? Why should businesses be burdened with these additional costs? How many businesses will be forced to drop health insurance for all employees as a result of these costly Corzine Care mandates? How will this new mandate effect employment in New Jersey? Fisher doesn’t address these issues. Costs, unknown.

How many New Jersey state and local school district employees, currently paying nothing toward their medical insurance coverage, have children in the 19-30 year-old category? How much will it cost the taxpayers of New Jersey to pay for insurance for these older “children”?

It’s obvious someone’s going to be picking up the insurance tab for 370,000 “children” and that includes New Jersey’s taxpayers, workers and consumers. And trust us; this number will grow if this coverage becomes a state mandated benefit. Costs unknown.

The third component of Corzine Care would allow all children and pregnant women, plus adults with kids in FamilyCare program, to "buy-in" and purchase FamilyCare coverage at the “bulk rate” the state pays. Fisher estimates about 400,000 additional people would be eligible for this insurance (with some overlap in the above categories).

We assume this group would include the chronically ill that end up seeking treatment in costly emergency rooms. What will happen to the “bulk rate” premium paid by the state when a high percentage of these newly insured and chronically ill are added. Clearly the cost of the insurance coverage will have to go up for those in good, as well as, poor health. Costs unknown.

Corzine Care would also introduce a pilot program for small businesses with less than 25 employees. This program would provide coverage to 400,000 individuals that currently do not have insurance through their employers. Fisher places the price tag at $9.7 million per year.

Fisher doesn’t explain how businesses will be chosen for the pilot or the impact the program would have on small businesses that currently offer coverage to their employees. Why should the state subsidize a business expense for one small business and not another. Is this fair or is it just another form of "pay-to-play"?

Wouldn’t this pilot program provide an incentive for all small businesses to drop coverage for their employees in favor of Corzine Care? How much will that cost the taxpayers? Fisher doesn’t provide any insight into these obvious problems. Cost unknown.

So to sum up, Corzine Care would provide health insurance coverage to an additional:

200,000 children and pregnant women under traditional FamilyCare

370,000 19-30 years olds, through their parents’ employer’s plans

400,000 children, pregnant women and adults with kids in the FamilyCare program eligible to purchase FamilyCare at the state’s “bulk rate”

400,000 individuals working for small businesses without employer insurance plans covered under a new pilot plan

This brings us to a total of 1,370,000 individuals eligible for some form of Corzine Care – we will assume the 170,00 above the 1,200,000 people Fisher cites as New Jersey's uninsured are eligible under more than one category.

Fisher is asking us to believe that 1,200,000 people can be covered for only $9.7 million a year. The remainder of the $15 million Corzine has earmarked, $5 million will go for increasing the hours of operation of community health centers to reduce expensive emergency room care.

Meanwhile, 740,000 people are covered under Medicaid for a total cost of over $2 billion. Mr. Fisher your numbers for Corzine Care just don’t add up, you'd better tell Senator Corzine and stop pulling our leg.


At 6:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of those 229,743 people already in the Family Care system, I'd bet you'd find a distinct minority of grown males. Mothers and pregnant women have a strong instinct to seek out and obtain the already-available healthcare for their offspring and are not waiting for CorzineCare or anyone else to make that happen.

At 9:44 AM, Anonymous NJCONS said...

Great post. Thoughtful, Well researched and documented.

As an aside. I own a business with 20 people and would drop health care in a minute if I could. So would every other owner I know. The savings would allow me to buy whatever health care I wanted for my family and leave the State holding the bag for my employees. It cost me 1200 a month to insure a family.

At 10:17 PM, Blogger Ken Adams said...

Matt decided to comment on my questions, but not answer them. I replied in the comments to his post. I see he couldn't be bothered to respond to your post.

At 10:57 PM, Blogger Enlighten said...

We don't post on the Corzine Connection or ask questions on the Senator's blog. We're happy to see that others are challenging Matt. Poor Matt must have his hands full and he can no longer blow people off by calling them stupid or liars as was his previous M.O.

Running back to the policy people to receive his responses turns him into a typist and that can’t be very satisfying. Is this what blogging is all about? You’d think Matt would be up on the Senator’s major proposals - that he would be able to refer to Corzine’s policy papers and respond without help from the experts.

Still points to Corzine for giving people a forum to ask questions. Now if they can come up with some answers to the hard questions, the blog might actually serve a useful purpose.


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