Gov. Phil Murphy today signed an executive order that directs the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency to convene an Interagency Health Care Affordability Workgroup. The workgroup is tasked with identifying opportunities throughout the governor’s administration and across the public and private sectors to advance the shared goals of improved healthcare affordability, accessibility, and transparency.
The executive order further directs the Department of Banking and Insurance (DOBI), with partner agencies, to develop plans for the implementation of both healthcare cost growth benchmarks and health insurance affordability standards to ensure increased oversight and accountability in the state’s healthcare system, and to support efforts to stem the tide of rising healthcare costs.
The order calls for the creation of a Health Care Affordability Advisory Board comprised of healthcare industry stakeholders, consumer advocates, and policy leaders to guide the development and implementation of the cost growth benchmarks mentioned above.
“Today, I am signing Executive Order No. 217 that will bring together an interagency working group that will not only identify areas for improving affordability, but also put forth the policy proposals to make it real,” Murphy said. “This will be a broad interdepartmental effort that will include, at a minimum, the Departments of Health, Human Services, DOBI and the Treasury.
“Implementing polices like these will ensure a comprehensive approach that addresses costs while bringing more oversight, accountability and transparency to our healthcare system,” Murphy continued.
In an issued statement, New Jersey Business & Industry Association Chief Government Affairs Officer Chrissy Buteas commented that NJBIA appreciates Governor Murphy’s announcement and that NJBIA members have long voiced their concerns about rising healthcare costs.
“These concerns are even more exacerbated now with the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” Buteas explained.
In fact, of the 72% of respondents in the association’s recent Business Outlook Survey who offered health insurance to employees in 2020, 28% said they will be forced to discontinue that coverage in 2021 due to escalating costs and declining revenue.
“With statistics like these and health premiums continuing to rise steadily every year, it is paramount that New Jersey does what it can to help employers meet the great challenges of providing cost-effective healthcare,” Buteas said.
In related news, following the Biden administration’s healthcare action today, Murphy announced the state is extending the health insurance enrollment period for uninsured residents to sign up for coverage through Get Covered New Jersey (GetCovered.NJ.gov), the state’s official health insurance marketplace, in response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We want to ensure that New Jerseyans have the coverage they need to see a doctor when they are sick, but also to get the preventive care that is so vital to their long-term health,” said Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride. “Keeping open the enrollment window for those who are uninsured will give residents the chance to choose a plan now, instead of having to wait until next year to get covered. Especially during a public health emergency, this extension is crucial to protecting our residents’ health.”
The first Open Enrollment Period started Nov. 1, 2020 and ends on Jan. 31, 2021. The state will extend the window for eligible uninsured residents to enroll in a health insurance plan through the marketplace or directly from carriers through a COVID-19 Special Enrollment Period through May 15, 2021.
The coverage effective dates will be as follows:
Enroll by Feb. 28, coverage effective March 1;
Enroll by March 31, coverage effective April 1;
Enroll by April 30, coverage effective May 1;
Enroll by May 15, coverage effective June 1.
Residents shopping for health insurance through GetCovered.NJ.gov have access to a new state subsidy — called New Jersey Health Plan Savings – on top of premium tax credits and cost-sharing reductions available to lower the cost of their health insurance. Eight in 10 consumers purchasing coverage on Get Covered New Jersey qualify for assistance.
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