TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, issued the following statement regarding a joint hearing between his panel and the Senate Labor Committee regarding employers’ responsibility to provide health benefits for their workers:
“As a longtime proponent and author of NJ FamilyCare, I am very disappointed to see large employers shirking their responsibility and relying on FamilyCare as a crutch to avoid providing health benefits.
“The program was initially intended to provide access to health care for the financially underprivileged, but the ranks of the uninsured are being artificially inflated by big businesses that are failing to provide fair benefits to their workers.
“Because of this failure, and New Jersey’s own budget plight in recent years, we’ve had to scale back FamilyCare, even for those who need it most, because we’re being flooded by families that should be covered under their employers’ health plans.
“FamilyCare cannot be universal health care for all New Jersey’s residents. We simply do not have the resources available. But, in tandem with fair employee benefits, we can make sure that every New Jerseyan can have access to necessary health care. The system only works though if businesses meet their obligation to provide fair and reasonable health benefits for their employees.
“I look forward to working with members of the business community, labor leaders and public interest groups to ensure that New Jersey FamilyCare is as effective as it can be, and that all of our residents have health care coverage, whether through FamilyCare or private plans.
” New Jersey is meeting our obligation in the form of FamilyCare to the goal of health care access for all of our citizens. The business community needs to meet us on level ground if our efforts will be successful.”