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Trenton Lawmakers Call on Governor to Stop Horizon from Leaving City Hospitals in the Cold

Following a meeting with state Department of Banking and Insurance officials, 15th district legislators on Friday called on Gov. Christie to intervene to ensure that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s new Omnia Health Alliance plan does not do irreparable harm to capital city residents and its two hospitals.

Horizon recently announced that it was forging a “tier one” partnership with only 22 hospitals throughout the state to offer lower out-of-pocket costs, which will essentially increase costs for patients who visit more than half of New Jersey’s hospitals that have been excluded from the plan, including both Trenton hospitals – Capital Health and St. Francis.

Senator Shirley K. Turner, Assemblyman Reed Gusciora and Assemblywoman Liz Muoio met with Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Richard Badolato and other administration officials last week to discuss their concerns over the impact the new plan will have on Trenton area residents.

Under state regulations, the commissioner is given authority to license and regulate a health service corporation. State regulations also stipulate that an insurance carrier “shall maintain an adequate network.”

During the meeting, administration officials claimed the plan is fine under the state’s “adequacy rule.”  The lawmakers argued that the rule is vague and doesn’t define what adequacy is, thereby granting the commissioner wide discretion to determine if it’s both adequate and in the public’s interest, two major clauses that they believe are not being met by Horizon’s new plan.

“DOBI took a narrow interpretation of what their role is and it’s disappointing that they’re going to sit on their hands when they have the ability to act to protect what’s in the public’s best interests,” said Turner.  “While this plan may benefit certain parts of the state, it will do irreparable harm to capital city residents and many others.”

“The state shouldn’t stand idly by while an insurance company dictates public policy in New Jersey,” said Gusciora.  “This plan clearly favors an elite group of hospitals while threatening to run others out of business.  If I were in charge of this administration I would not want to be responsible for presiding over the closure of the capital city’s hospitals.”

The lawmakers are now calling on Gov. Christie to intervene to protect Trenton area residents and ensure that both capital city hospitals don’t teeter towards insolvency because of this plan.  Additionally, the lawmakers are meeting with Horizon officials next week to request that they yield the plan until further review of the criteria used to select participating hospitals.

Written by
Krystal Knapp

Krystal has been a journalist in the Trenton area since 1999. A graduate of Smith College and Princeton Theological Seminary, she is from Detroit. She likes baseball, cats, jazz, ukulele, typewriters, chai, and good coffee. Follow her @planettrenton.

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Written by Krystal Knapp