TRENTON – A measure sponsored by Senators Loretta Weinberg and Joseph Vitale, which would require insurance companies to provide individuals with disabilities access to services and facilities not accessible through in-network providers, was unanimously approved today by the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee.
“The impetus for this legislation came from my conversations with women who were unable to visit their physicians because the offices and exam rooms were inaccessible to them because of their disability,” said Senator Weinberg, D-Bergen, who chairs the Senate Health Panel. “There are many others with similar stories, and it all comes down to this — New Jerseyans who are living with disabilities deserve to be able to see a physician who can accommodate their needs, whether that physician be in-network or out-of-network. In drafting this legislation we worked with the insurance companies, who also recognize that their consumers should have access to medically necessary services regardless of whether or not they are disabled. Through this bill we are allowing disabled patients who pay for health insurance, to use that health insurance.”
“This is all pretty simple, if you have health insurance, you should be able to see a doctor,” said Senator Vitale, D-Middlesex. “Unfortunately, that is not the case for many New Jerseyans who are living with disabilities. Through this bill, we are calling upon insurance companies to make sure their networks adequately serve people with disabilities.”
Under the Senators’ measure, S-358, insurance companies would have to develop a plan to provide consumers with in-network rates for accessible medical services, if there is not an in-network provider who is able to accommodate their needs.
The bill would also require that patients pay the same co-pay amount for an out-of-network physician as they would pay for an in-network physician.
This measure now heads to the full Senate for approval. #