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MEDIA ADVISORY – Senate Health Committee To Hold Hearing On Horizon Compensation, Patient Protection Act Monday

Committee Will Also Consider Urging Governor to Support Federal Health Care Reform

TRENTON – On Monday, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will hear from invited guests regarding executive compensation at Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, and the organization’s mission as a nonprofit health services corporation and New Jersey’s largest health insurance provider.

“As New Jersey’s largest health insurer, Horizon has a responsibility to its subscribers to provide reasonable, affordable access to the medical care they need,” said Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen, and chair of the health committee. “As a nonprofit health corporation, Horizon has a responsibility to keep health care costs down and put money into direct care, not executives’ pockets. Reports of multi-million dollar compensation packages for top executives at Horizon undermine the organization’s nonprofit status and merit serious government scrutiny.”

The Committee will also hear testimony regarding the implementation of 2005’s Health Care Professional Responsibility and Reporting Enhancement Act. The law, sponsored by Senator Weinberg while she served in the General Assembly and health committee Vice Chair Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, was enacted in response to killer-nurse Charles Cullen, and his ability to jump from health care job to health care job despite warning signs of his criminal activities. The law requires greater peer reporting and review, and allows facilities to share information regarding professional misconduct, improper patient care, and other factors which call into question an employee’s ability to provide medical care.

The committee will consider SCR-108, sponsored by Senator Raymond Lesniak and Senator Vitale, as well as 10 co-sponsors including Senate President Stephen M. Sweeney, Majority Leader Barbara Buono and Senator Weinberg, to urge the Governor to support new federal health care reforms. The resolution recognizes that New Jersey depends on increased funding made available by the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act, which was signed into law in March. Governor Christie has identified funding from the new federal reforms to restore cuts to prescription drug programs, but has also indicated that he is considering joining a conservative-backed federal court challenge to the law.

Legislation Senators Brian Stack and Kevin O’Toole are sponsoring to require boards of trustees of hospitals that accept state or federal funding to hold meetings once per month and ensure a time during each meeting for public comment, S-2020, also has been scheduled for consideration.

The Health Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:00 AM on Monday, June 14 in Committee Room 1 of the Statehouse Annex.