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PREVIEW – Senate Health Committee To Consider Expanded Familycare, Rational Health Care Resources Bills On Thursday

TRENTON – At a hearing on Thursday, May 15 in the Statehouse Annex, the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee will consider legislation sponsored by Committee Chair, Senator Joseph F. Vitale, to expand NJ FamilyCare in an effort to set the stage for accessible, affordable health care coverage for all New Jerseyans.

“This is an important first step in establishing a better model for New Jersey to meet its obligation to the uninsured,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “Under the current charity care funding model, we aren’t making the most of our State’s limited health care dollars. We’re encouraging bad health care practices, by sending the message that uninsured New Jerseyans need to wait until their illness or injury is so severe that they have to go to the emergency room for care. This is a broken and dysfunctional system, and it’s time for a health care plan that works.”

The bill, S-1557, would expand eligibility of New Jersey FamilyCare to more low-income parents, as well as expand efforts to enroll uninsured children who meet income standards into the program. The bill would require all children under the age of 18 to have some form of insurance within a year of being enacted, whether through public health care programs or private insurance. Though there are no punitive measures to penalize non-compliance, the “Kids First” mandate will increase marketing of the program and work with schools, hospitals, clinics and the medical community to enroll many more children. The bill would make various reforms in the individual and small employer insurance markets to ensure affordability and stabilize cost.

The Committee will also review bills based on the recommendations of the Reinhardt Commission to Rationalize Health Care Resources. The measures, sponsored by members of the Health Committee, would:

• require each hospital to conduct an annual public meeting for the community it serves (S-1794, sponsored by Senator Dana Redd, D-Camden and Gloucester);

• require training for trustees serving at all general hospitals in New Jersey (S-1795, sponsored by Senators Jim Whelan, D-Atlantic, and Ronald L. Rice, D-Essex);

• allow the State Department of Health and Senior Services to conduct enhanced monitoring of hospital financial performance and intervene in the management of distressed hospitals (S-1796, sponsored by Senator Bob Gordon, D-Bergen);

• and prohibit hospitals from charging uninsured patients more than 15% greater than the applicable Medicare rate of reimbursement (S-1797, sponsored by Vice Chair of the Health Committee, Senator Loretta Weinberg, D-Bergen).

The Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee is scheduled to meet at 10:30 AM on Thursday, May 15 in Committee Room 4 of the Statehouse Annex in Trenton.

WHO: Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee

WHAT: Hearing to review expanded FamilyCare coverage and hospital governance bills.

WHEN: Thursday, May 15 at 10:30 AM

WHERE: Committee Room 4, Statehouse Annex, Trenton, NJ

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