Kaiser Network

New Jersey Lawmakers Hold Conference To Discuss State Health Care Reform

Kaiser Network — Thursday, November 15, 2007

New Jersey should create a public-private health insurance system to ensure all state residents have access to affordable health care, state lawmakers and health care experts said at a conference on Tuesday, the Bergen Record reports. More than 200 health care providers and advocates attended the conference – including representatives from California, Massachusetts, Maine and Wisconsin, who outlined health care reforms implemented in their states.

State Sen. Joseph Vitale (D-N.J.) said state lawmakers are researching ways to provide appropriate care to undocumented immigrants and uninsured residents, as well as how to keep them from using emergency departments for nonemergency health care. Vitale said that a better use of charity care funds would be to spur market reform to create affordable care and to create a private-public partnership for coverage. "When nearly 80% of people are more concerned about losing health care than they are about crime or terrorism or losing their jobs, it says something," Vitale said.

Roger Hickey, co-director of Campaign for America's Future, at the conference said that presidential candidates should consider a "guaranteed choice" health plan that would require employers to provide health insurance or pay into a public fund. Individuals would be given the option of several health plans, or they could take part in a program similar to Medicare.

In addition, Heather Howard, policy counsel to Gov. Jon Corzine (D), at the conference said that the state's FamilyCare program is successful but "under attack" by conservative lawmakers. Howard said, "We want to reduce the number of uninsured in New Jersey but we're having to play defense to programs" (Groves, Bergen Record, 11/14).

Copyright 2007 The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation

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