TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee and one of New Jersey’s chief advocates of healthcare reform and universal care, today issued the following statement regarding Governor Corzine’s 2008 State of the State Address:
“Through the Governor’s comments today, it’s obvious that he recognizes that New Jersey’s finances are broken, and that we are in need of serious transformational change to fix the State’s many problem. However, the State’s health care system is just as dysfunctional, and we cannot put off the sort of reform that will protect the health and well-being for New Jersey’s citizens.
“Every year, one billion in taxpayer dollars is thrown down the bottomless pit of charity care, offering a million New Jerseyans little hope and access to the kind of care they need, when they need it.
“The current system puts parents and children – and the State’s hospitals – in very real jeopardy.
“My plan for universal health care reform is incremental and affordable. Simply put, we cannot afford not to reform the State’s health care system, just as we cannot afford to ignore the other problems we face in the Garden State.
“It would be wrong to suggest that change cannot happen over time. And while some might suggest that national reform is the ultimate solution to our health care crisis, any sort of national reform will take years, if at all. States have always been the best laboratory for meaningful reform, and New Jersey families cannot wait the years it will take for national change, nor can they survive the uncertainty in how it will be designed.
“I believe that real health care reform will be a priority for the collective Legislature in the coming term. I will work with my colleagues to make health care access a reality for the New Jerseyans that need it most.
“Without dramatic change, there will be more uninsured New Jerseyans, people will get sicker, and the hospital system will collapse. Transformational change is just as important in our State’s health care system as it is for the transportation infrastructure, environmental priorities and the financial well-being. Now is the time for action – we can no longer wait.”