TRENTON – Senator Joseph F. Vitale, D-Middlesex, the author of S-1557 – legislation which would expand FamilyCare for more low-income parents, ensure affordable health care for all New Jersey children, and make various reforms to the individual and small business health insurance markets – issued the following statement after the bill was unanimously approved by the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today:
“I applaud Governor Corzine and my legislative colleagues for having the foresight to include a much-needed health care system overhaul in plans for the FY 2009 Budget. While I recognize that we’ve had to make some difficult choices about the priorities of the State in crafting this year’s spending plan, I’m thankful that New Jersey’s leaders have shown the courage to try to fix a health care system which is broken and desperately in need of repair.
“The reality is that New Jersey’s current system of administering to the health needs of our residents has become bloated, inefficient and unstable. Money that would be better spent giving people access to quality preventive health care is wasted on costlier emergency room care. We spend more for less in terms of results, and frankly, we can no longer afford the status quo in State health care, and must seek a better way moving forward.
“There are an estimated 1.25 million New Jerseyans currently living without health insurance. Of that, nearly a quarter million are uninsured children who are not getting access to the sort of care they need to become healthy, productive adults. We’re at crisis levels when it comes to affordable health coverage in the State, and as the cost of care climbs higher and higher, the number of uninsured State residents increases.
“Through this legislation, we’re taking the first step to guarantee that health care coverage would be affordable for everyone in the Garden State. By establishing a “Kids First” mandate for children, we’re taking a measured, phased-in approach to ensure that New Jersey’s residents have access to appropriate care in an appropriate setting. Some time in the Fall, we expect to reveal the second phase of this health care reform plan, designed to help uninsured adults who are one major health care crisis away from bankruptcy.
“This legislation represents a paradigm shift in terms of moving our State’s health care system from a costly and inefficient emergency care model to a less expensive and more effective preventive care model. Especially in these trying economic times, we need spend health care dollars smarter, and make the most of our State’s health care investment. Quality health care cannot be a privilege for the economically elite, and we need to more to ensure that everyone receives the care they need in the Garden State.”