Tag Archive: health care

Erev Obamacare Chat with Health Chair

Unless you’ve been on another planet for the last few weeks, you know that tomorrow is a milestone in improving the health of Americans and bringing down the cost of health insurance.  Unless it’s delayed by the Republican shenanigans in Washington, tomorrow will be the first day people can sign up for Obamacare.

On the eve of this milestone, the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee heard testimony from several health care conglomerates on how they plan to improve outcomes and control costs. The theme was integrated care models – a team of health professionals from different specialties working with patients to optimize prevention and treatment.

After the session, I spoke with the committee chair, Herb Conaway, MD about Obamacare and the integrated care model.

Disclosure: I have done volunteer work on Conaway’s re-election campaign.

For more information on Obamacare, click here

Blue Jersey’s Interview with Frank Pallone

I travelled to Congressman Frank Pallone’s Long Branch office this morning to speak to him about his campaign for the Democratic U.S. Senate nomination and his position of the issues of the day.

I was pleased that his response to my first question stressed his work on the environment, specifically New Jersey’s waterways. Pallone is strong on the environment, and like his counterpart Rush Holt (and unlike Cory Booker), unequivocally opposes dangerous hydraulic fracturing.

In addition to the environment, we talked about how he plans to work around the stalemate in Washington, health care, income disparity, education, and the emerging surveillance state.

Disclosure: I’m a Holt supporter and have volunteered for his campaign. But if Pallone beats Booker, I’ll be ecstatic

Health Care Professionals and Patients Call for Governor Christie to Obey the Law

The compassionate use of marijuana for palliative purposes was legalized in New Jersey even before Chris Christie occupied the State House. But as Governor, he does not have the power to choose which laws to obey – he is obligated to execute the laws that he agrees with and those with which he disagrees.

Today, the Coalition for Medical Marijuana New Jersey held a press conference urging the governor and lawmakers to carry out the law which the Governor has stonewalled ever since he took office. Every day that the Governor delays is another day of suffering and inconvenience for some very sick people.

The videos below are interviews and comments with Ken Wolski, Executive Director, and Jay Lassiter, Media Director of the Coalition. Also, below the fold, some brief comments from Democratic Assemblyman Reed Gusciora are presented.

Compassionate medication should not know political boundaries, and indeed, one of the proponents of the use of medical marijuana is Republican Assemblyman Michael Patrick Carroll. He was unable to attend today’s press conference, but he issued the following statement:

My philosophy on New Jersey’s medical marijuana law is that we should be empowering doctors to treat their patients as they see fit, and not have lawyers or bureaucrats standing in the way. That’s why I’m frustrated at the State’s implementation of this law, which smacks of big government overreach.

AZ’s Republican Gov Embraces Medicaid Expansion. NJ’s Needs To Do the Same

promoted by Rosi

Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer has become just the third Republican governor in the country to opt in to a crucial piece of Obamacare: the Medicaid expansion. Brewer, a Republican, did so even though she continues to oppose the Affordable Care Act in principle.

With the feds picking up nearly all of the costs, it’s no wonder Gov. Brewer came to her senses and opted in to the expansion, which will help boost Arizona’s economy while providing health coverage to those in need.

Your move, Gov. Christie.

For background on why the expansion is a no-brainer, check out these two recent NJPP reports: 9 Great Reasons to Expand Medicaid in New Jersey Now and Another Reason to Expand Medicaid: Working New Jerseyans in Most Occupations Would Benefit

HPAE President’s Message

Let’s Stay Focused On Our Issues and Principles

This is the year when numbers and percentages have been used as shorthand to express social and political views.  You are either in the 99% or the 1% of very wealthy Americans. Now there is a new category: Mitt Romney’s designation of 47% of Americans as supporters of President Obama, non-tax payers, people who just want a government hand-out, or people who believe in a right to health care, food or housing.  

Numbers can be confusing, inaccurate, divisive, or just an overly simplistic way to calculate the status of an election campaign, the economy and our very future.

That’s why we ask you to stay focused on our main issues and principles. Those principles do include a right to quality health care for all of our patients and access to care for our communities.

Governor Christie: Transparency and Accountability Just a Slogan, Not a Policy

promoted by Rosi

When Governor Christie went on the national stage at the Republican Convention earlier this week he wasn’t telling the whole truth.  I know I don’t have to tell everyone at Blue Jersey that fact.

Specifically, when the governor talked about New Jersey’s government being accountable and transparent, or how his administration works with Democrats to solve problems, he failed to mention his veto of legislation that would have given patients and taxpayers accountability for the millions of dollars in public funding now going to for-profit hospitals in New Jersey.  

Christie’s veto meant that private for-profit hospitals can continue to operate under a veil of secrecy.

And I hope you’ll sign our petition to override Christie’s veto of the bill. 

Who is being protected – patients or profits?

promoted by Rosi

Governor Christie recently vetoed a bill that would require hospitals – particularly for-profit hospitals – to report publicly on whether they are spending charity care and public funds on patient care or on excessive profits. It begs the question: Who is Governor Christie protecting – taxpayers and patients or those who profit from New Jersey’s patients?

The New Jersey Hospital Disclosure and Public Resource Protection Act (S782/A21243) passed both the NJ Senate and NJ Assembly with strong bi-partisan support, in recognition that for-profit hospitals are operating under a veil of secrecy when it comes to whether their profits are coming at the expense of quality patient care and services.

Yet, Governor Christie took out his red pen and turned a state requirement that hospitals file this financial information with the NJ Department of Health into a half-year “study” by the DOH Commissioner. Other information the law would require to be disclosed would include, for example, whether for-profit hospital boards and executives were doing business with each other – often called ‘self-dealing’. Not-for-profit hospital boards must disclose self-dealing on reports filed with the IRS; private for-profit hospitals, like many in NJ – have no such requirement.  

Sen.Kyrillos Standing Up for Women?

This was posted late, late last night. I’m pulling it up top again this morning for all of you who go to bed at a sensible hour. – Rosi

Sen. Kyrillos is a nice gentleman, well spoken and articulate. I am certain he is also a good husband and father. But an advocate for women in our state legislature? Hardly!

It is really easy to put together a group of partisan anything – women, minorities, unions, teachers, etc. to stand up for a particular candidate. But this one stretched the bounds of reality a bit. Sen. Kyrillos’ Women’s Coalition claimed that women suffer the most in a down economy. Probably true! That’s why New Jersey’s higher than the nation’s unemployment rate adds to the plight of so many women who are also heads of households. Then let’s remember who is now leading our state while that unemployment rate has crept up.  

That’s why women’s access to affordable health care is so vital. That’s why it was so unfortunate that Sen. Kyrillos voted against $7.5 million for family planning centers. Why we wish he had joined his Republican women colleagues, Senators Diane Allen and Senator Jen Beck in supporting this important budget line. That is why we wish Sen. Kyrillos had stood up to vote to override the Governor’s veto. That is why we applaud Senator Menendez for always strongly advocating for women whether it is access to reproductive health care or equal pay for women.

I hope the Kyrillos Women’s Coalition asks why their endorsed Senator has not been an outspoken advocate for the Lily Ledbetter bills. Find out why he has not urged his Republican U.S. Senate colleagues to stand up for a woman’s right to choose; or access to affordable reproductive care; or pay equity! Look at his own voting record on these issues.

Yes, this little Kyrillos endeavor does stretch reality a bit.  

I’m going to the White House Friday. What should I tell them?

Let’s say you’re going to the White House. And some people who speak directly to the President of the United States talk to you and want to know what you think. What would you tell them? I’m going to the White House Friday.

On Friday, I’ve been invited to a series of briefings by senior White House staff and advisors, and breakout discussions on issues important both here in New Jersey and nationally. Friday is New Jersey day, a day those discussions will happen with an invited (and laboriously cleared by Secret Service) list from here. I’m the only one from our Blue Jersey frontpager staff going, but I’m certain several Blue Jersey readers have also been invited who are skilled forward-thinkers advancing good work all across New Jersey.              

I should be clear that this is not a campaign event; not about re-election, but policy direction. It’s through something called the Common Purpose Project. Think of it as a way for the White House and President Obama to keep lines of communication open with ‘leaders of major progressive organizations’ and those who work in progressive messaging.

We will be there the morning after the U.S. Supreme Court delivers its ruling on the Affordable Care Act, upon which so much hangs. So either way that goes, that’s going to be a huge topic of discussion. I expect we’ll also cover:

  • Economic Equality and Tax & Finance Fairness

  • Education

  • Social Security & Medicare

  • Environment

    So, back to the question: : What do you want me to tell them? What should I convey about the issues that are important to you that touch on the work the President does?

    Leave responses in comments – or for longer or more private concerns, email me at contact@bluejersey.com

  • Insurance Industry, 1. Consumers, 0: Dissecting Gov. Christie’s Veto Message on the Health Insuranc

    NJPP senior policy analyst Raymond Castro’s reaction to the governor’s veto message. Cross-posted from NJPP.org.

    Gov. Christie’s veto of the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act is a major setback for the 1.3 million New Jerseyans who are uninsured and the thousands more who can’t afford what little health coverage they have.

    While two states already have an exchange and 12 states have moved ahead with efforts to establish an exchange, the fate of quality affordable health coverage in New Jersey lies in the hands of the U.S. Supreme Court. If the high court overturns the Affordable Care Act, the governor has no plan on how to solve the un-insurance crisis. No matter what the Supreme Court decides, more state leadership is urgently needed, as this crisis is threatening our state’s health and economy.    

    Even if the Supreme Court upholds health care reform, Gov. Christie wants to change New Jersey’s exchange in ways that will hurt consumers while benefiting the insurance industry.