Saturday, June 18, 2011

NJ Benefits Reform: A Sticky Provision Lurks

You can find it in Section 76 of the landmark New Jersey public employees' pension and benefits reform bill.
It's the part about out-of-state hospitals and medical facilities.
And, no matter how you read it, it seems to be cause for concern.
I've read it and re-read it and I can come to only one conclusion. This provision apparently has one purpose and one purpose only: to severely limit or restrict the ability of a plan participant to use an out-of-state hospital or medical facility. It attempts to keep medical care for plan participants in New Jersey.
But surely you remember Benjamin Franklin's description of New Jersey as a "barrel open at both ends." New Jersey leads to New York or Philadelphia. And New Jerseyans do not hesitate to cross state lines -- frequently. We cross state lines for entertainment, enrichment, shopping, sports, socializing -- and yes, medical care. These twin metropolitan areas at either end of our state are world-renowned centers of medical care. This means no disrespect to medical care within the Garden State. But if you're really concerned about your health or you're facing a serious health problem, why in hell should you be restricted to only certain doctors and certain hospitals within certain boundaries?
This is America. We have a federal system of United States. We move about freely. We don't need at passport to cross state lines. And we shouldn't be geographically restricted when we want the best medical care.
Let's hope that some sensible heads prevail in Trenton and this item is removed from the bill before it's enacted.
Click here to read more about this.

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