N.J. Governor Vows to Unveil Health Insurance Plan in Sept.

By | August 9, 2006

New Jersey will consider adopting a program that “approaches universal health care” as it seeks to provide health insurance to small businesses and uninsured residents, the governor said recently.

Gov. Jon S. Corzine said he plans in September to unveil a health insurance reform plan that would coincide with state efforts to study hospitals and health clinics.

“We’re certainly going to work on providing something that approaches universal health care,” Corzine said as he spoke on WNYC, a New York public radio station.

He decried the current system in which uninsured residents rely on emergency room care largely paid for by the state. The state spends about $1 billion per year to treat people who lack health insurance.

“It is a horrible system, very inefficient,” said Corzine, a Democrat.

Corzine on Monday said he would soon form a commission that would study whether the state has too many hospitals. The state has 81 acute care hospitals and 34 specialty hospitals, but 40 percent of them lost money last year and the average hospital earned a 1 percent profit.

Last Thursday, Corzine said the state would also analyze community health clinics to develop “a more effective network.”

While running for governor last year, Corzine proposed insuring 766,000 of the state’s 1.2 million uninsured residents through a variety of reforms. Corzine said he could accomplish this by spending just $15 million more in state money.

If that goal is reached, 95 percent of New Jerseyans will have health insurance.

Corzine, while a candidate, proposed allowing people to buy into the state’s health care program for low-income families and creating a new insurance pool that would cover large health care costs and make it easier for small businesses to cover employees.

“Frankly we need to provide new formats for insurance for small business and individuals who are left out of the system,” Corzine said Thursday.
Corzine on the radio didn’t elaborate on what his September plan will include, nor would his staff later Thursday.

“During the campaign the governor talked about making health insurance more affordable, and though this is a national problem we are looking at ways to provide relief to individuals and small businesses in New Jersey who are struggling with this burden,” Corzine spokesman Brendan Gilfillan said.

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