TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, and Chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement today on the passage, by a vote of 6-2, with 2 abstentions, of his resolution, a Senate Committee Substitute for SR-47 and SR-100, calling for federal enactment of the “United States National Health Insurance Act,” a measure which would set up single-payer not-for-profit universal health care nationally:
“If you were to build the perfect health care system, ensuring that all people have access to appropriate, quality health coverage, our current national model wouldn’t even be under consideration. We waste far too much money on executive perks and needlessly complex administration, taking funds away form where they should be spent – on direct care.
“Too many health care decisions are made by actuaries instead of by patients and their doctors. Too much money is spent on unnecessary expenses, while hospitals can’t afford to stay open. And too many Americans can’t afford even the most basic health care coverage, and are forced to ignore their health until they can’t ignore it any longer.
“In New Jersey, we’ve tried to live up to our responsibility to ensure that everyone has access to quality medical care. New Jersey hospitals spend nearly $1 billion to provide for charity care for the uninsured each year, with the State spending $715 million to reimburse the hospitals for that care.
“We have one of the most aggressive models of subsidized health coverage in the entire country for the working uninsured in New Jersey Family Care, and we still have an estimated 1.25 million New Jerseyans without health insurance coverage, including almost a quarter of a million children.
“Our health care system, nationally, is broken. However, H.R. 676, the ‘United States National Health Insurance Act’ sponsored by U.S. Representative John Conyers, represents hope that health care in this country can be fixed.
“H.R. 676 would establish Medicare for all residents, reinvesting the money we already spend nationally on health coverage on direct care for everybody. Hospital visits, regular doctor visits, dental care, basic vision care, prescription drugs, mental health services, substance abuse treatment, and long-term care would all be covered under this new single-payer model.
“Access to quality health care is a fundamental right – not a privilege – for all Americans, and it’s time we recognize that right and fund national, universal care. We cannot afford anything less.”