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The goals of this issue group are to retain affordable, quality health care for all, keep the public informed of health-care options in New Jersey, and protect and expand the Affordable Care Act signed into law by President Obama in March 2010 guaranteeing access to economically feasible health insurance for all Americans. Active since 2005, the health-care group has studied the pros and cons of national health care systems around the world and considered proposed reforms enacted in states around the country. During 2006, we developed and presented around the state a PowerPoint presentation accompanied by fact sheets to educate interested groups. Since 2008, BlueWaveNJ and its health-care group were an active part of the NJ Health Care coalition advocating for comprehensive health-care reform legislation.
While some provisions of the Affordable Care Act have already been enacted—such as extending parental coverage to children until age 26, and coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, other important protections, such as the requirement establishing a federal list of “essential health benefits” to be provided by all insurers, has been weakened. Instead, each state is now allowed to specify the benefits to be offered within broad categories. This is of great concern in New Jersey where the State Banking and Insurance Division could weaken coverage to benefit the insurance companies, requiring vigilance and strong consumer efforts to voice our need for adequate coverage.
There are two key actions to watch for in New Jersey. One is the development of a health-insurance exchange—a virtual marketplace that will let individuals and small businesses comparison-shop for coverage—that must be passed by June 30. If done right, this exchange could broaden health-insurance choices and simplify individuals’ decision-making process as well as contain costs. The other is the makeup of an oversight board. Representation on the board is currently under discussion, and it is crucial that consumer representation balance out industry influence.
BWNJ’s Health Care group supports the national and state efforts of the following organizations: NJCitizen Action, and Health Care NOW. Please visit their websites to learn more.
NJCitizen Action http://njcitizenaction.org/hc.html
Health Care NOW http://www.healthcare.gov/