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Horizon praised for sharing windfall with consumers

Health Insurer earns plaudits from Governor, interest groups

By David Wildstein, March 01 2018 1:36 am

The political sparts of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey came through on Wednesday when a group of key validators praised them for announcing that the company would invest $275 million available from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act by returning $150 million to policy holders and $125 million in healthcare initiatives – including mental health services, enhanced access to primary care physicians and plans to address addiction.

The announcement comes seven months after Gov. Chris Christie shutdown state government in a fight over the state’s authority to tap Horizon’s reserve fund to fund addiction treatment.

Now Horizon is receiving plaudits from the new Democratic governor, from a Republican congressman, and from interest group leaders New Jersey Working Families executive director Analilia Mejia and CWA New Jersey state director Hetty Rosenstein.

“I commend Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield for reinvesting these profits into New Jersey through efforts such as increasing access to primary care in underserved communities, more fully connecting their members to behavioral and mental health programs and strengthening substance abuse prevention,” Gov. Phil Murphy said.

Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-Toms River), who helped pass the Tax Cut and Jobs Act, praised the effects of Horizon’s decision on middle class families.

“In addition to middle class families and local businesses saving $9 billion next year, paychecks increasing, and bonuses for frontline employees, this announcement by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield is more good news for New Jersey families, thanks to tax reform,” said MacArthur. “Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s reinvestment will put money in the pockets of middle class families, help provide better care for New Jerseyans, and help grow our state’s economy. I worked extensively on this tax cut bill and this is another example of why the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act is good for families across our state.”

Murphy and MacArthur have asked the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities to mandate that utility companies pass on any savings realized from the tax reform law to consumers in New Jersey.

“Since the passage of the massive GOP Tax Plan, we have seen countless corporations funnel their savings to shareholders and wealthy executives.  It is refreshing to see a corporation, such as Horizon, place New Jersey working families before profits by truly passing on savings to working families and investing in much needed services we all benefit from,” Mejia said.

Rosenstein praised Horizon for sharing “their tremendous tax windfall with consumers.”

“Let’s hope more insurance companies follow their lead. We’re particularly excited about Horizon’s announcement that they’ll use significant funds to increase primary care, and we hope we can work together expanding primary care via the Direct Primary Care Model we brought to our state,” Rosenstein said.  “We’re ecstatic that Paladina Health and R-Health both now have doctors’ offices here in New Jersey – providing more personalized care and a stronger doctor-patient relationship for our members with no-pay and no wait time.  It’s great that Horizon wants to put money into this model, because this is the key to good health across the board at a reasonable cost to the public.”

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