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NJ health groups slam Trump's executive order on health care

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NJHA president Betsy Ryan says Trump's executive order on health care could leave NJ families with
NJHA president Betsy Ryan says Trump's executive order on health care could leave NJ families with "barebones" coverage - ()

Industry health insurance industry groups have generally denounced President Donald Trump’s executive order, signed Oct. 12, that could potentially allow American employers to form groups across state lines to gain access to health insurance.

The order gives federal agencies the ability to adopt broad changes that could include the sale of cheaper health insurance policies with fewer benefits to employers and individuals, and fewer protections for consumers than what they have under the Affordable Care Act.

President Trump told reporters when he signed the order, “we are moving toward lower costs and more options in the health care market, and taking crucial steps toward saving the American people from the nightmare of Obamacare. This is going to be something that millions and millions of people will be signing up for, and they’re going to be very happy. This will be great health care.”

Two leading New Jersey health care advocacy groups, however, disagree.

“If the goal is making health care more affordable, this Executive Order only makes things worse and it deserves an ‘F’,” Doug Johnston, managing director of Hands Off NJ, said in a written statement. Hands Off NJ is a group that advocates for the protection of Horizon Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NJ’s reserve fund.

“The only people who will see lower health insurance bills are forced to accept cheaper, stripped down coverage and risk financial ruin when they get sick, have an accident, or otherwise find themselves needing health careAnyone who remains in the individual market – likely those who have chronic illness or other significant health care needs - will see their premiums skyrocket when few are left in the individual risk pool. Lousy coverage for less money is a loser deal for the people of New Jersey.”    

The executive order is also being slammed by the New Jersey Hospital Association, which claims the new order will strip down coverage and could eliminate coverage for people with pre-existing conditions.

“My greatest concern is for health care consumers as the Trump Administration takes steps to systematically dismantle the law that provides health care coverage to 32 million Americans, including about 800,000 New Jerseyans,” Betsy Ryan, NJHA’s president, said in a written statement.

“Those individuals and families may not realize that these actions could eliminate important protections for those with pre-existing health conditions, or requirements for minimum levels of covered services in insurance plans. Amid all the political chaos and noise, health care consumers could be left with bare-bones coverage that is practically worthless when they or their families really need it. They will pay the price from their own pockets, and the health care system that we all depend on will be threatened by the growing burden of unpaid care. The President’s actions also sow a growing level of unease and uncertainty throughout the health insurance market, and that means higher premiums for all of us – individuals, families and employers.”

“Poll after poll shows that the American people want a bipartisan effort to keep the Affordable Care Act but fix some of its shortcomings. New Jersey’s health care community urges our elected leaders to listen to their constituents and work constructively to repair the ACA and preserve health care coverage and consumer protections.”

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Vince Calio

Vince Calio

Vince Calio covers health care and manufacturing for NJBIZ. You can contact him at vcalio@njbiz.com.

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