Asbury Park Press

Horizon, Watchdog Spar Over Medicaid's Future In Plan

Asbury Park Press — Thursday, November 20, 2008

By GREGORY J. VOLPE
GANNETT STATE BUREAU

TRENTON — Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey disputed a watchdog group's claim today that it plans to drop Medicaid coverage if state officials approve its application to convert to a for-profit company.

That was among the concerns raised today by members of Horizon Watch Coalition, a group that has reconvened to be a watchdog over Horizon's conversion application.

Horizon spokesman Tom Rubino at first denied the claim. But then he added that if Medicaid is costing the company money, it could be dropped regardless of whether Horizon becomes a for-profit company or remains nonprofit.

"If a company can't make money in Medicaid, and is losing money in Medicaid, it can't do that for very long because other members are subsidizing that program," Rubino said.

Horizon Watch held a news conference today saying they want to make sure the state's review process is transparent, an independent consultant assesses health concerns and that proceeds to the state yielded by the conversation are used, as mandated by state law, to improve access to health care for the public.

Horizon filed its application in August, but state officials deemed it to be incomplete and returned it seeking more information. Both Horizon and the state have posted their dealings online.

"They are certainly seeming to be transparent, but it's important this is not a back room deal with window dressing," said Eve Weissman of NJ Citizen Action. "Seeming to be transparent is one thing, actually providing the information is another."

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