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Move Health Care Forward New Jersey President Dennis Bone. (Photo: Montclair State University.)

Horizon overhaul bill gets key support

Bone: ‘Legislation will help make health care better for millions of New Jerseyans by making Horizon better’

By David Wildstein, December 02 2020 11:30 am

Legislation that would allow an overhaul of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield to permit the health insurance giant to become a not-for-profit mutual holding company addresses concerns about Horizon changing its corporate structure, said Move Health Care Forward New Jersey President Dennis Bone.

“ It makes clear that Horizon will continue to operate under its charitable and benevolent status, will continue to fall under the same regulations and guidelines from the Department of Banking and Insurance as well as the Attorney General, and that there are no stockholders nor will there be a conversion,” Bone said in a statement released today.

Move Health Care Forward announced support for the legislation from 30 grassroots organizations, groups and elected officials, including Garden State Equality, the Latino Institute, Jay Bhatti, the Co-Chair of Governor Murphy’s Transition Team on Government Technology and Innovation.

The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee held a hearing on the measure on Tuesday.  The committee chairman, John McKeon (D-West Orange), said the full Assembly could vote on the proposal this month.

McKeon said that New Jersey’s health care systems need to “adapt to changing circumstances in order to truly help members.”

“As it currently stands, Horizon cannot make many of the investments it needs in order to provide the highest quality care to its 3.5 million subscriber,” McKeon explained. “This bill would amend existing statute to allow Horizon to implement the necessary infrastructure to invest in diverse and innovative health services while still maintaining its not-for-profit mission.”

Bone said that the bill does not create a new law, but instead amends the existing law.

“Horizon deserves credit for its willingness to work with the Governor’s office and legislative leadership to address these concerns and move forward in the best manner possible,” Bone stated.

Part of the bill will expand the size of the Horizon board, giving more seats to Gov. Phil Murphy, Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin.

“Now that these issues of concern have all been appropriately addressed, it is important that this legislation move forward. The state’s outdated health care laws continue to make it difficult to meet consumer demands, especially in the age of COVID-19,” said Bone. “This legislation will help make health care better for millions of New Jerseyans by making Horizon better. We cannot and should not turn down this opportunity.”

Others backing the bill: Brand New J; Community in Crisis; ASPIRA Inc. of New Jersey; Parker Family Health Center; Bergen Volunteer Medical Initiative;  Mainstage Center For The Arts; Positive Impact; Community Foodbank of New Jersey; Diabetes Foundation; Essex County Executive Joseph DiVincenzo; State Senator & North Bergen Mayor Nicholas Sacco; Hackensack Mayor John Labrosse; Hudson County Board of Chosen Freeholders Chair Anthony Vainieri; Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise; African American Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey; Bergenfield Mayor Arvin Amatorio; Rutgers University Foundation; Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey; Chamber of Commerce of Southern New Jersey; New Jersey Chamber of Commerce; Symphony in C; Commerce and Industry Association of New Jersey; New Jersey Business & Industry Association; Meadowlands Chamber of Commerce; Trenton Thunder; Branch Brook Park Alliance; Lincoln Park Coast Cultural District; and the Somerset Patriots.

“GSE has been in existence for 16 years now and we have always known Horizon to be steadfastly committed to preserving affordable healthcare through bold and innovative endeavors,” said Christian Fuscarino, Executive Director of Garden State Equality. “The reason that Garden State Equality and our 150,000 members support this proposed change is because of its potential to expand access to quality, affordable health care for millions of New Jerseyans, including LGBTQ+ residents, members of the BIPOC community, seniors, and other traditionally underserved groups.”

According to Bhatti, the bill would allow Horizon to invest in the best health technology companies in the state.

“New Jersey companies will grow, hire more employees, and increase their ability to develop the latest health care technologies,” Bhatti said.  “This investment and innovation will also lead to tremendous economic growth.”

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