TRENTON – Senate Health Committee Chairman Joseph F. Vitale issued the following statement following the Governor’s Fiscal Year 2018 State Budget address:
“I thank the Governor for continuing his commitment to funding lead remediation and health services for children poisoned with lead across the state, and commend his continued support in the fight against the addiction crisis in our state. We are all in this fight together and must continue to work collaboratively to make a real and direct impact on the innocent lives destroyed by this fierce disease.
“Inarguably, the expansion of Medicaid has led to a significant reduction in the number of uninsured residents in New Jersey, and that has in turn led to a reduction in charity care applications across the state. However, as we face uncertainty over the future of the Affordable Care Act, I urge the governor to exercise extreme caution before reducing funding to charity care as proposed in his budget. Any scaling back of the ACA could have a devastating impact on New Jersey residents and their health needs, and we can expect to see a rise in the need for charity care once more if that happens. Perhaps the governor can use his connections in Washington to help protect the funding we so desperately need to keep our residents healthy and insured.
“And while I appreciate the governor’s mention of the out-of-network and transparency issues, no level of transparency is going to help someone in an emergency or protect them from egregious billing practices. Legislation that my colleagues and I have been working on for many years gets to the heart of this complex issue, which reaches far beyond the bounds of a transparency problem.
“I look forward to forging ahead and working with my colleagues to ensure that the health priorities of New Jersey residents are met and represented in the budget so that we can better serve our communities in leading healthier lives.”