NEW JERSEY – Governor Phil Murphy Thursday, joined by Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride, Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency Director Shabnam Salih, Hackensack Meridian Health CEO Robert Garrett, and health care advocates, signed Executive Order No. 217, which directs the Office of Health Care Affordability and Transparency to convene an Interagency Health Care Affordability Workgroup to identify opportunities administration wide and across the public and private sectors to advance shared goals of improved health care affordability, accessibility, and transparency.
The Governor’s Executive Order further directs the Department of Banking and Insurance, with partner agencies, to develop plans for the implementation of both health care cost growth benchmarks and health insurance affordability standards to ensure increased oversight and accountability in our health care system and to support efforts to stem the tide of rising health care costs. The Order will also create a Health Care Affordability Advisory Board comprised of health care industry stakeholders, consumer advocates, and policy leaders to guide the development and implementation of the cost growth benchmarks.
“The COVID-19 pandemic and economic fallout in its wake have laid bare socio-economic disparities and underscored the importance of more equitable, affordable access to health care services, coverage, and prescription medicines,” Murphy said. “Despite the progress we’ve made, health care costs continue to be a challenge for New Jersey residents, employers, and the State. Throughout this past year, our health care workforce has come together selflessly in service to our residents. The time is now to build on this collective spirit to more fully transform our health care system to make it more equitable, accessible, and affordable.”
This work builds on the administration’s efforts to improve access to high-quality, affordable health insurance for residents under the Affordable Care Act, including the establishment of a state based marketplace, a reinsurance program, a shared responsibility requirement, the implementation of out of network reforms and providing eligible residents with additional financial subsidies.
“New Jerseyans have lost so much due to the COVID-19 pandemic. We have also seen tremendous leadership and service from our health care leaders and recognize that we are upon a transformative moment in health care,” Salih said. “We must continue to do all we can to save lives and ensure our residents have equitable access to more affordable health care and that includes working to stem the tide of health care cost growth. I look forward to working with leaders across the state, across industry and consumers and advocates to build plans and policy solutions that help us get there.”
“The COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of health care access, and highlighted the critical need for our continued work to address health care affordability,” Caride said. “By understanding the specific cost drivers within the health care system, we can set benchmarks and policies aimed at containing costs that are ultimately paid by our residents. This administration has taken numerous actions to improve access to health coverage and care for our residents. We are now taking the next step forward to improve the health care system in our state for all of our residents by looking at health care costs across markets.”
“The Department of Health look forwards to participating in the Interagency Health Care Affordability Work Group,” said Health Commissioner Judith Persichilli. “This effort will help ensure that consumers and health care providers benefit from transparency and increased information regarding health care costs while maintaining a strong, integrated health care network to ensure access to all New Jersey residents.”