HMH Healthcare Forum

Governor, Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Discuss Healthcare Landscape

Major topics include preserving protections of ACA, affordability and behavioral health

Gov. Phil Murphy and Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert C. Garrett discussed vital healthcare issues facing New Jersey and the nation, including preserving the patient protections provided in the Affordable Care Act, collaborating to improve behavioral healthcare and investing more in prevention to improve outcomes and lower overall healthcare spending. The event was held at Hackensack Meridian JFK Medical Center.

“We were thrilled to welcome Governor Murphy to Hackensack Meridian Health for a thoughtful and frank conversation on the health issues affecting families and communities in our state,” said Robert C. Garrett, CEO, Hackensack Meridian Health. “At Hackensack Meridian Health we are committed to delivering high-quality, affordable and convenient healthcare, and we stand with Governor Murphy and his efforts to make healthcare more accessible and affordable for everyone.’’

Linda Bowden, New Jersey regional president of PNC Bank and a member of the board of governors of Hackensack Meridian School of Medicine at Seton Hall University, moderated the discussion.

“New Jersey is leading the way in the medical field with groundbreaking research, innovative treatments, and some of the best hospitals in the country, including Hackensack Meridian,” said Governor Phil Murphy. “New Jersey has a responsibility to protect and provide access to high-quality, affordable healthcare for all of our residents. It is a top priority of my Administration to continue to strive for high quality care while ensuring that access to medical treatment is a right for everyone and not a privilege for some.”

The conversation followed Governor Murphy’s State of the State earlier this week, where he announced the establishment of the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency to work across state agencies and lead critical efforts to reduce consumer healthcare costs, make insurance more affordable, and improve price transparency. The Department of Banking and Insurance will work with this new Office to track the actual costs residents pay for the healthcare services they receive. The Murphy Administration will use to use this data to focus on minimizing cost increases and setting new standards for quality and transparency.

Behavioral health took center stage: Governor Murphy and Garrett called for greater access to treatment, more coordinated care, reducing stigma that prevents people from getting help and focusing on earlier intervention.

New Jersey lost more than 3,000 people to opioid overdoses and more than 70,000 Americans died from overdoses in 2018. Nationally, live expectancy has declined for the third year in a row, largely due to the rise in opioid-related deaths and an increase in suicide.

Hackensack Meridian Health recently opened the first urgent care behavioral health clinic in the country, a major part of a comprehensive strategy to improve access, better coordinate care and innovate treatment for people struggling with mental health issues and addiction. This, along with its merger with Carrier Clinic, is advancing behavioral healthcare by helping many more people receive high-quality, compassionate care.

The network also plans to open an addiction treatment center in Mahwah this year, The Retreat at Ramapo Valley.

“I am proud that Hackensack Meridian Health is leading the way in transforming behavioral healthcare,’’ Garrett said. “We are committed to helping change attitudes, to see people with addiction just as we see those suffering from cancer, diabetes or heart problems,” Garrett added.

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