Senator Bucco: Morris County mayors are right to be upset about spiking health care premiums
Murphy Administration Didn’t Share Information During Budget Process to Help Prevent Massive 23% Premium Increase
MORRIS COUNTY, NJ – Senator Anthony M. Bucco said Morris County mayors are right to be upset about the looming impact of massive health insurance premium increases imposed on local governments that will squeeze budgets and drive up property taxes.
“The Murphy administration never hinted to mayors, legislators, or public employees that health care premiums for those enrolled in the State Health Benefits Plan would rise by more than 20% this year,” said Bucco (R-25). “It’s clear, however, that Governor Murphy knew this was coming as early as February, months before the increases were announced. Had the governor shared that knowledge with the rest of us this spring, we could have worked on a solution with mayors, local governments, and the administration as part of the State Budget adopted in June. Unfortunately, that never happened because the administration wasn’t transparent about what it knew.”
Bucco’s comments followed a press conference by a group of Morris County mayors today to express their concerns regarding a nearly 23% increase in health insurance rates for local governments that was adopted by the State Health Benefits Commission in early September.
Governor Murphy quickly agreed to a deal with State worker unions to limit a similar 21% premium increase that was adopted for State employees to just 3% in exchange for higher co-pays for specialist and urgent care visits, but he never offered local governments a chance to negotiate similar savings, Bucco said.
Bucco said that the Murphy administration has refused to consider cost-saving proposals offered by local public employee unions and has not held Horizon accountable for its failure to achieve savings for the State Health Benefits Plan as required by a State contract for which it is paid.
Further, he pointed to more than $10 billion in surplus revenues and unspent federal pandemic relief funds that were available during the State Budget process that could have contributed to a comprehensive solution to lower costs and prevent the spike in premiums.
“The Murphy administration has ignored multiple opportunities to work with stakeholders to control costs and find an equitable and affordable solution to prevent these massive premium increases,” Bucco said. “As a result of these many failures, local government budgets are getting slammed with a huge unexpected cost that will likely lead to big property tax increases in Morris County and across New Jersey. Governor Murphy seems to be the only person in New Jersey who doesn’t think this is a problem that needs to be fixed.”
Senate Republicans have requested the formation of a special legislative committee to address the skyrocketing health care premiums and called for subpoena power to compel the Treasury Department to provide documents and testimony in support of that goal.