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N.J. labs pushing to be in-state providers on state health plans

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A Bergen County laboratory chief executive is testifying Thursday in favor of state legislation that would allow New Jersey laboratories to be included as in-network providers on state health plans contracted through Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

BioReference Laboratories Inc. CEO Marc Grodman said the bill, S2428, encourages competition by letting New Jersey providers, including Madison-based Quest Labs and other health sector companies, vie for services provided they meet price demands.

“If we are going to let competition rule, and allow for innovation and better access, then give New Jersey entities the chance to compete for those programs where the state is footing the bill,” Grodman said. “We are looking to be as cost effective as possible.”

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield, the state’s largest health insurance company, has entered into a single-source contract with Lab Corp. of Burlington N.C. for laboratory testing for state and municipal employees.

“Due to a single source contract, consumers may lose out on many forms of innovation, such as important diagnostic tests for women’s health and cancer screenings,” BioReference said in a statement.

“Not only does this limit health care access for state and municipal employees, it impacts New Jersey businesses and jobs,” the company said.
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield did not immediately answer a request for comment.

The Senate Health Committee is holding a hearing on the bill, sponsored by Sen. Anthony Bucco, R-Morris, and Sen. Nellie Pou, D-Paterson.

A vote is not scheduled today.

Sponsors say the bill requires health benefits plans in Medicaid, NJ FamilyCare, the State Health Benefits Program and School Employees Health Benefits Program to offer equal terms for participation of certain health care providers in their provider networks.

“This bill promotes job growth and job security for health care sector employees in the state by ensuring that a qualified health care provider operating in the state can elect to participate as an in-network provider, under the same terms and conditions applicable to all other in-network health care providers, with a health plan funded by the state,” according to a summary of the bill.


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