The Daily Targum

Group Advocates For Health Care Reform

The Daily Targum — Sunday, February 28, 2010

By Cassandra Sperber
Contributing Writer

Though Washington D.C. is more than 200 miles away, the effects of the U.S. House of Representative, U.S. Senate and presidential health care proposals are already being felt in the Garden State.

New Jersey Policy Perspective, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that conducts research on public policy issues in New Jersey, released a new report last week titled "Estimated Impact of Health Reform Bills Passed by the House and Senate on New Jersey," which highlights the presidential and congressional health care proposals.

"[The report] takes a look at the three proposals from the House, Senate and president and explains the impact they would have on the state," said Eve Weissman, health care campaign coordinator for the NJ Citizen Action Education Fund.

National heath care reform would bring additional money to New Jersey through federal subsidies to help all New Jersey residents afford health insurance, she said. Federal subsidies would range from $23 to $29 billion over the next 10 years depending on the plan enacted.

The report also states the three proposals would insure between 867,000 and one million uninsured New Jersey residents, she said. According to estimates from the report, 1.5 million New Jersey citizens will be without health care insurance by 2019.

"Not only is [health care reform] the right thing to do, it's good for the economy," Weissman said.

Each of the three proposals also include consumer protection measures that would prohibit insurance companies from denying a person coverage because of pre-existing conditions or dropping a person's coverage due to sickness, according to the report.

The three health care proposals will help keep insurance companies honest through measures like the creation of a new Health Insurance Rate Authority to protect customers from predatory rate hikes and to require transparency and accountability, according to the report.

The Health Insurance Rate Authority would be particularly important to small businesses severely affected by unaffordable health care and high premiums, according to a University press release on the report.

The much-publicized health care summit on Thursday represented an important step toward compromise in bringing both sides together to discuss the various health care proposals, Weissman said.

"This was an important step for [President Barack] Obama to try and move forward with a gridlocked Congress," she said. "The president and leaders of Congress are working to move this forward for the economy and for people's health."

School of Arts and Sciences first-year student James Marion said he was encouraged by the summit and dialogue between Domocrats and Republicans.

"Even though it was occasionally bogged down by the same sort of political rhetoric that comes with any meeting of the two political parties, it was nice and exciting to see that there was actual, productive discussion," Marion said.

Jinal Kansara, a School of Arts and Sciences first-year student, believes health care should be affordable to everyone in the United States and hopes to see improvements with the current system sometime soon.

"There definitely needs to be an improvement, and I hope Congress and President Obama can make it happen," Kansara said.

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