September 28, 2022 – Trenton – A coalition of 13 New Jersey advocacy organizations led by NJ Citizen Action today called for a “more thorough, transparent and credible public engagement process” on the Horizon reorganization application in a letter to the state’s Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI).
The letter, whose signatories included labor, consumer, health care, immigrant and public policy advocacy groups, noted that the public hearing timeline “is far less than the 90 days required by statute and will severely hamper the public’s ability to give meaningful input.” It also called attention to the fact that “supporting documentation submitted by Horizon has not been released” and that a health impact study by DOBI on the reorganization has yet to be completed.
“Any proposed reorganization will have a massive impact on 3.6 million New Jersey health insurance policyholders,” said Maura Collinsgru, Director of Policy and Advocacy for NJ Citizen Action. “We urge DOBI not to rush this critical and complex application process and to ensure the general public has ample opportunity for comment and input.”
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey is the largest health insurer in the state. DOBI gave the $13 billion not-for profit’s proposal to expand into the health care business preliminary approval last week, with three public hearings on the application (October 6, 12, 17) squeezed into a mere two-week timeframe.
Given the impact reorganization will have on New Jersey residents, the state’s health care system, and the charitable assets held by the current health services corporation, the NJ for Health Care Coalition called on DOBI to:
- Revise the hearing schedule to stagger hearings over the next 90 days, holding the 1st hearing in October, the 2nd in November and the 3rd and final hearing in December;
- Release any and all supporting documentation that is not strictly proprietary for the public to consider before the onset of hearings;
- Advise the public as to when the health impact study will be initiated, who will conduct it and when the study will be released.
“Holding the three required meetings within two weeks rather than over the 90-day period permitted by statute is a travesty, and indicates that neither the Horizon nor the State are confident in making sure that public scrutiny is well-informed and robust,’ said Renee Steinhagen, Executive Director for New Jersey Appleseed. “The public needs time to understand the proposed conversion, evaluate it and make any recommendations to the Department that it deems necessary to ensure that the transaction is in the public interest.”