"Knowledge will forever govern ignorance

 and a people who mean to be their own governors

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Tuesday, April 15, 2008

New Jersey Health-care Choice Act

Assemblyman Jay Webber is proposing legislation that would lower the cost of health insurance in New Jersey and reduce the number of uninsured without requiring a subsidy from taxpayers.

We’ve supported similar ideas in the past and suggest our lawmakers in Trenton give serious consideration to Webber’s New Jersey Health-care Choice Act. It’s a model for health-care reform that we desperately need and can afford.

We’re posting Webber’s piece from the Daily Record that explains his proposal. We hope you will contact your representatives and tell them you want access to quality, affordable health-care insurance through the passage of the New Jersey Health-care Choice Act.

Opening Health-care Market Will Lower Costs
By Jay Webber

New Jersey Democrats recently unveiled the latest in a long line of big-ticket spending items: a universal health insurance mandate for New Jersey. The plan would require every New Jerseyan to buy a health insurance policy, and if one cannot afford a policy, the state would subsidize its cost. The initial annual price tag for this expansion of government is $1.7 billion. Gov. Jon S. Corzine himself has acknowledged that taxpayers simply cannot afford the proposal.

And when was the last time we saw a government program come in under budget in New Jersey? Audits already have found wasteful spending, poor oversight and outright fraud in the state's existing health-care program.

Our state needs health-care reform to be sure, but there is a better alternative to that taxpayer-funded, bureaucracy-based proposal. My proposed legislation, the New Jersey Health-care Choice Act, would instantly lower the cost of health insurance in New Jersey, slash the number of uninsured and require no government subsidy.

That reform is not another massive government program -- New Jersey's politicians got us in the health insurance mess we're in. (We have 1.2 million residents without health insurance at any one time.) In fact, for our politicians' past attempts at health-care "reform," one commentator called New Jersey "the 'poster child' for how to destroy a health insurance market."

How did the state fail so spectacularly? New Jersey law permits individuals to purchase only high-end health insurance policies subject to our state's cumbersome and expensive regulatory requirements, which are arguably the most burdensome in the nation. Micromanaging lawmakers have locked us into a Hobson's choice of purchasing expensive, gold-plated, one-size-fits-all health coverage, or living with no coverage at all.

The government's hyper-regulation of the health insurance market results in our paying as much as three times more for coverage than our neighbors in states such as Pennsylvania. The higher costs our regulatory scheme places on New Jerseyans are striking. For example, a single female, 29, living in Montville will pay $2,040 annually for a bare-bones health policy. Across the Delaware River in nearby Lansdale, Pa., the same individual would pay $810 for basic health coverage. A family of four living in Parsippany would pay $7,835 annually for low-end coverage; the same family would pay $3,172 in Blue Bell, Pa.

My act would permit New Jerseyans to access lower prices available in other states by doing something very simple: buy health insurance from insurers approved to sell insurance in other states. Individuals, families and small employers would have the right to cross state lines and look for health insurance policies anywhere in the country. They then could purchase the policies that best suit their needs and budgets. Nothing would force New Jerseyans into buying insurance outside New Jersey -- any consumer still would be free to purchase high-end New Jersey policies.

But many will not continue to shop only in the Garden State. Policies in our neighboring states are not inferior to those sold here; they are just less encumbered by government regulation. Those policies therefore span a much greater range of affordability. Think of it this way: while New Jersey requires everyone who has health coverage to own "Cadillac" policies, other states permit their residents to buy "Honda," "Chevy," or "Cadillac" policies. That increased accessibility encourages more of the uninsured to buy health insurance, greatly reducing the problem of the uninsured -- without costing taxpayers a dime.

Health-care choice would be especially helpful for those lacking health insurance because they are out of work temporarily. (An estimated 45 percent of our uninsured lack insurance for six months or less, most because they are between jobs.) Opening our market to out-of-state insurers will lower the cost of health coverage for those families by as much as 60 percent or more and allow them to maintain health coverage during a tough time without government assistance. Costs also will plummet for small employers, who often would provide health coverage for their employees, but cannot afford it.

Liberating state health insurance markets is a developing trend across the country. Legislators in Maine, Wisconsin, Georgia, Colorado and California are in various stages of crafting proposals to permit their citizens to go out of state to buy insurance. A bill pending in the U.S. House would accomplish this for everyone in the country.

We live in a state that likes to consider itself "progressive" and "cutting edge." If we are as ahead of the curve as we believe ourselves to be, then let's be the first to open our health insurance market to genuine competition from outside the state. By loosening New Jersey government's iron-fisted grip on our citizens' health insurance choices, we can make progress on an important social goal and save taxpayers from a mammoth and counterproductive health insurance mandate we cannot afford.



35 Comments:

At 4:59 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Isn't this what Joe Pennacchio proposed almost a year ago when he made health reform a major part of his United States Senate run?

"Immitation is the most sincere form of flattery."

 
At 2:49 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

it is important to open up competition and allow purchasers to go out of state - but NO ONE should be forced to buy health insurance - that is just flat out wrong (and no - it isn't the same as auto insurance - driving is a privilege, and health insurance is not a right)

 
At 5:54 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hmmm... and Obama wants to make health insurance mandatory for all of America. How exactly does he think we can afford that right now when the deficit is at record levels and Americans are hurting right now?? What we need right now is McCain to reduce wasteful spending in the federal government, not increase spending across the board and fund it by increasing the capital gains tax and Social Security tax like Obama proposes!

 
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At 11:18 AM, Blogger Pat said...

Insurance companies take between 25 and 35 percent of the our health care costs and give us nothing in return, unless you want to consider a denial of a needed procedure as a service. We need a national single-payer system. It's the only answer to the health care fiasco. It works in the civilized, and it can work here in the US as well. House bill HR 676.

 
At 11:08 PM, Anonymous seth said...

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At 2:18 AM, Blogger Road2theHouse48 said...

I completely agree with this proposal.. We need this type of approach at the federal level as well.. A mandatory health care policy is NOT the path.. Competition and privitization will ultimately lower the cost of health care and allow more Americans to become insured without a large government expenditure.. health care should be viewed as an economic issue and not a government issue.

 
At 5:09 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Universal health insurance permission for New Jersey. The plan would require every New Jersey a buy a health indemnity policy and if one cannot afford a strategy the state would sponsor its cost.
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At 10:00 AM, Blogger Uddin Communication said...

It is true that our healthcare system is in need of serious reform. More importantly, we as a society have yet to answer what sort of responsibility do we have towards the well being our fellow members of society. It is a question that has been answered by other civilized societies worldwide.
What is not being addressed is that the majority of healthcare costs goes towards treating chronic disease. Some studies have put the figure at 75% of the cost, about $1.5 trillion out of $2 trillion dollars, that is spent towards treating diabetes, hypertension and other chronic diseases. Most of which is preventable through proper lifestyle practices and preventive care. Whatever form of healthcare reform is enacted, addressing the issue of chronic but preventable diseases is essential to realizing long-term cost savings and a healthier society in the future.

 
At 7:48 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What is this burdensome government regulation that NJ imposes? My policy is expensive, and is certainly no "Caddilac". I'd lke to know what the "Honda" looks like.

Maybe the burden they are talking about is the fact that insurers are required to insure people regardless of their health, that they can't cancel a policy when people get sick, etc. Yeah, lets give that up, and let the insurance companies decide who to insure. Then after they've picked the cherries, the rest can just be covered by Medicaid or left to have no healthcare at all.

Take a look at the "burdensome" regulations then decide how much you trust insurance companies to act in the best interest of consumers without them.

http://www.state.nj.us/dcf/behavioral/NJHealthInsuranceGuide.pdf

 
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At 6:03 PM, Blogger DrD said...

I don’t believe that health insurance is expensive because of overregulation. As a physician working in NJ I have seen the onslaught of cuts to reimbursement over the last 20 years that have left many physicians looking for other jobs. Meanwhile I watch the major health insurance companies reap hundreds of millions of dollars per quarter and still claim to need increases in premiums to keep things rolling. The insurance lobby is the largest in the nation. It seems that no matter what happens they manage to stay below radar when the accusations start flying. Nonexistent is the politician who comes down on the insurance industry. Don’t you wonder why? You say you want universal healthcare?? Have any of you lived in a country where it exists. Do you know what it is like to wait for months for your cardiac catheterization when you have recurrent chest pain from unstable heard disease? And who will manage that healthcare? The only “insurance companies” that are bankrupt are those run by the government, Medicare and Medicaid! We need more regulation of the insurance industry that forces them to provide transparency regarding their finances. We need to get rid of all the insurance regulation of the medical profession. I am better equipped to decide who needs a cat scan or MRI than some imbecile with a list of “indications” sitting in front of him while the patient sits in front of me.

 
At 2:21 AM, Anonymous Tim said...

John McCain's Health care plan has many advantages over Obama's plan. While Obama has a few good ideas they are just that, ideas and wishes. McCain actually has a plan that will both help control/lower curent costs and make it more affordable and possible to actually have health care. McCain's plan involves making Health Insurance Innovative, Portable and Affordable

 
At 8:55 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

John McCain has a comprehensive economic plan that will create millions of good American jobs, ensure our nation's energy security, get the government's budget and spending practices in order, and bring relief to American consumers. Read each of the sections below to learn how the McCain Economic Plan will help bring reform, prosperity and peace to America. Go to: http://www.johnmccain.com/Issues/jobsforamerica/ for more information.

 
At 4:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperance. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

 
At 12:45 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We need to get government out of our life..the spending by government on all levels is out of control.It is time to get our house in order and we need some real leadership that is willing to tell the people government can not take care of all things for all the people. At the same time we can not be bailing out big business either.

 
At 8:37 AM, Blogger jorgeshrugged said...

Dont forget Jack Mertha calling his rural constituents old racists.

 
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Its beautiful to see Obama saying all that he says, but is it really smart and logical to move by these actions now??
Maybe we should all sit down and think for the future of this country for once, we should end many things and come up with some sense to make this world a better place!!

 
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The New Jersey Healthcare Choice Act” permits health insurers licensed in other states to provide coverage in New Jersey under certain circumstances.

 
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