Senator RAYMOND J. LESNIAK
District 20 (Union)
Senator JOSEPH F. VITALE
District 19 (Middlesex)
Senators Sweeney, Buono, Gill, Gordon, Weinberg, Cunningham, Norcross, Whelan, Ruiz and Rice
Urges Governor not to join lawsuit against enforcement of new federal health reforms.
CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT
A Concurrent Resolution urging the Governor not to join any lawsuit that seeks to enjoin enforcement of the federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” and related provisions of law.
Whereas, The federal “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Pub.L.111-148, was enacted into law on March 23, 2010, and was amended by the federal “Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010,” Pub.L.111-152, enacted into law on March 30, 2010; and
Whereas, A number of states have undertaken legal action to enjoin enforcement of the provisions of Pub.L.111-148, most notably the State of Florida, through its attorney general, which has filed a lawsuit, joined by several other states, against agencies and officials of the federal government, State of Florida et al. v. United States Department of Health and Human Services et al. (Case No. 3:2010cv00091), which seeks declaratory and injunctive relief against enforcement of the provisions of Pub.L.111-148; and
Whereas, The newly passed health reform legislation, embodied in Pub.L.111-148 and the amendments to that law contained in Pub.L.111-152, will have a profound effect on the health and economic well-being of American families, businesses, and the economy by making health care coverage more affordable for businesses and families, enabling millions of the uninsured to gain coverage, and helping to control the relentless rise in health care costs, thereby improving the lives of millions of Americans and giving them the peace of mind that comes with knowing that they have health care coverage; and
Whereas, The many significant improvements that this historic package of health reforms will make to America’s health care system include: a prohibition on health insurance companies denying health care coverage based on pre-existing conditions and a guarantee that every American will have access to high-quality health care coverage, regardless of age, gender, or health status; a new, regulated marketplace to promote competition among health insurance companies and provide consumers with the opportunity to purchase the best plan at the best price; the assurance that all Americans will have access to stable, high-quality health care coverage, no matter where they work; a limit on out-of-pocket health care costs so that all Americans will have real health security and peace of mind; sliding-scale subsidies to make health insurance premiums affordable for hard-working, middle-class families; a requirement that health insurance companies be accountable for how premium dollars are spent, and that a majority of the premium dollars they collect be spent on patient care; tighter regulation of insurance company practices to prevent the abuses that deprive consumers of their coverage when they need it most; much-needed financial relief to small businesses through tax credits that will enable them to afford coverage for their employees; assistance for young adults by requiring that health insurers allow all dependents to remain on their parents’ plan to age 26; an expansion of Medicaid to millions of low-income working families who currently fall through the health care coverage “cracks”; improvements to Medicare that will assist senior citizens and persons with disabilities to afford their drugs and preventive care, and make Medicare fiscally secure; investments in preventive care; and actions to improve the quality of health care overall and curb unnecessary health care spending; and
Whereas, These health reforms will dramatically improve the state of health care across the whole of America and no less so than in our own State; and
Whereas, From 2000 through 2009, the increase in the cost of family health care coverage premiums for New Jersey workers outpaced the increase in their median earnings by four-to-one; however, under the new health reforms, New Jerseyans with moderate incomes, including those up to $88,200 for a family of four in 2009, will receive sliding-scale subsidies to help them purchase high-quality health care coverage, which will protect New Jersey families from having to spend too great a share of their incomes on health care premiums; and, as more people throughout our State and nation gain coverage, the “hidden health tax” that amounted, on average, to $1,017 for each family in America with coverage in 2008 - representing the extra cost that families with insurance pay to make up for the care that physicians and hospitals provide to the uninsured - will diminish and thereby make health care premiums more affordable for those who have health care coverage today; and
Whereas, Almost one-third of New Jerseyans under 65 years of age were without health care coverage for one month or more during 2007-2008, and people with low incomes or those who are self-employed or work for small businesses are especially at risk of being uninsured; however, it is estimated that, under the new health reforms, some 888,000 New Jersey residents will gain health care coverage by 2019 through a variety of means, depending upon each resident’s situation; some will enroll in coverage provided by their employers, some will obtain coverage through a new marketplace called an exchange, in which insurers must play by new rules to make sure that consumers receive quality coverage, and some will gain coverage through an expanded Medicaid program that covers more low-income, uninsured residents who currently lack access to care; and
Whereas, Health care coverage for small businesses is often more expensive than coverage for larger firms, which is why, in 2008, only 53% of New Jersey businesses with fewer than 10 employees provided coverage, as compared with 99% of all New Jersey businesses with 50 or more employees; however, under the new health reforms, small businesses in New Jersey will receive tax credits to help them meet the costs of covering their employees, and new exchanges will provide a marketplace where small businesses can shop for comprehensive, affordable coverage and will make health care premiums more reasonable and predictable for small businesses; and
Whereas, Under the new health reforms, health insurance companies will be prohibited from placing annual or lifetime caps on the coverage provided under New Jerseyans’ health insurance polices, thereby protecting our residents against being left without health care coverage when they need significant medical care; and
Whereas, In 2009, some 260,000 non-elderly New Jerseyans with health care coverage were in families that spent more than 25% of their pretax income on health care, and such high out-of-pocket costs have driven many American families into debt, and even bankruptcy; however, under the new health reforms, health insurers will have to place caps on how much New Jerseyans are required to spend out of their own pockets for care; and these caps will be set on a sliding scale so that lower-income people will have greater protection from out-of-pocket costs, and our residents will also receive income-based help for paying copayments and other cost-sharing; and
Whereas, Currently, New Jersey senior citizens and persons with disabilities who are enrolled in the Medicare Part D prescription drug program face a gap in prescription drug coverage known as the “doughnut hole,” under which they may have to pay up to $3,610 out-of-pocket in 2010 for prescription drugs, in addition to their annual Part D premiums; however, the new health reforms will gradually eliminate the Part D “doughnut hole” by providing drug discounts that will increase each year until the “doughnut hole” closes entirely in 2020; and
Whereas, The 1.2 million Medicare beneficiaries residing in New Jersey are required to pay out-of-pocket copayments, co-insurance, and deductibles for many Medicare-covered preventive services, but the new health reforms will make preventive care more affordable for these senior citizens and persons with disabilities by eliminating all copayments, co-insurance, and deductibles for preventive care under Medicare; and by 2018, Medicare beneficiaries nationwide can expect to save an average of almost $200 annually in premiums and over $200 annually in co-insurance compared to what they would have paid without the new health reforms; and
Whereas, The new health reforms will extend, by nearly a decade, the Medicare hospital trust fund, which is projected to be insufficient to pay full benefits by as soon as 2017, and will provide more assistance to low-income Medicare beneficiaries, which will make it easier for Medicare beneficiaries in New Jersey and nationwide to obtain needed health care, both now and in the future; and
Whereas, The current State Administration has already announced that the receipt of federal monies allocated to New Jersey under the new health reforms will, in addition to other anticipated fiscal developments, enable the Governor to forgo the proposal in his recommended budget for Fiscal Year 2011 to impose a $310 deductible and increased copayment requirements under the “Pharmaceutical Assistance to the Aged and Disabled” program and the “Senior Gold Prescription Discount Program” on the low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities who receive critical assistance from these programs in paying for their vitally-needed medications; and
Whereas, The increase in the number of New Jerseyans with health care coverage as a result of the new health reforms will provide significant financial relief to hospitals in our State by reducing their charity care caseloads, and thereby help these facilities to better cope with the financial challenges they face and continue to provide essential health care services to the people of New Jersey and jobs for hospital employees throughout the State; and
Whereas, Given the many and important benefits that will accrue to the people of New Jersey as a result of the new health reforms, as well as to millions of other Americans, the Governor should publicly renounce any suggestion that this State join any lawsuit which seeks to enjoin the federal government from enforcing the provisions of these health reforms; and
Whereas, In further recognition of the significant benefits to New Jerseyans from the new health reforms hereinabove cited and in order to clarify any ambiguity as to where he stands on the most important federal health policy enactment since the creation of Medicare and Medicaid, the Governor, by a public declaration that befits his well-earned reputation for forthright and unambiguous advocacy of his public policy preferences, should join with this Legislature in asserting that these historic reforms are constitutional and beneficial, will conduce to a more just, fair, and healthy society, and are right for New Jersey and for America; now, therefore,
Be It Resolved by the Senate of the State of New Jersey (the General Assembly concurring):
1. The Governor is respectfully urged not to join any lawsuit that seeks to enjoin enforcement of the provisions of the new federal health reforms embodied in the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Pub.L.111-148, and the “Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010,” Pub.L.111-152.
2. Duly authenticated copies of this resolution, signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly and attested by the Secretary of the Senate and the Clerk of the General Assembly, shall be transmitted to the Governor.
This concurrent resolution urges the Governor not to join any lawsuit that seeks to enjoin enforcement of the provisions of the new federal health reforms embodied in the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act,” Pub.L.111-148, and the “Health Care and Education Affordability Reconciliation Act of 2010,” Pub.L.111-152.