Health Insurance Exchanges Testimony

On February 6, 2012 task force chair Carolyn Baldacchini  presented testimony at the Assembly Health and Senior Services committee meeting on  A2171, pertaining to the creation of the new Health Insurance Exchanges.

The creation of Health Insurance Exchanges is the next step in the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.  States must come up with their own exchange or the Federal Government will create one for them. New Jersey will receive money to create these exchanges.

The Health Care Task Force is concerned that the exchanges be organized so that, among many other aspects, the Exchanges:

  • Are consumer and patient friendly
  • Are transparent
  • Have boards that have equal advocacy representation as industry representation
  • That, in creating the exchanges, NJ do more than what is required by law.

Testimony

My name is Carolyn Baldacchini.  I am a volunteer and represent the Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey.  I am also self-employed.  Health Insurance exchanges will be wonderful for our state and for everyone in New Jersey.

In the interest of brevity, I would like to say that we support Ray Castro’s comments.

The cost of health insurance for the self-employed and small business owners is prohibitive.  Because of this, few New Jerseyeans can afford to start a small business. Because of this, many innovative and creative small business ideas, as well as science and technology innovations, have been lost to our state.  These are innovations that would have benefitted our state and our state’s economy.

Consultants, making up the vast majority of the self-employed, cannot afford the high cost of an individual health insurance policy.  The youth of New Jersey, graduating from college, cannot afford start a consulting business because of the cost of health insurance.  And, that SAT tutor?  Cannot afford health insurance.

With the Health Insurance Exchanges, these businesses will be able to go forward.  We will see a rebirth of creativity and innovation in business.  Our downtown family owned businesses will be able to invest more money and we will be able to fill our downtown Main Streets with wonderful stores.

I am a self-employed businesswoman.  In the fall of 2010 was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer.  I had no insurance.  It was a frightening moment when I felt the lump in my breast.  I could not get a mammogram without a referral.  Because I could not afford doctor visits, I had no doctor to give me a referral.  It was thanks to the compassion of a wonderful doctor who saw me and gave me a referral that I was able to have a mammogram.  I was diagnosed with Triple Negative Breast Cancer.

The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey hopes that, with these health insurance exchanges, no man, woman or child will ever again have to face cancer without insurance. The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey supports A2171 with certain suggested recommendations:

  • That there be two or more consumer health care advocates on the board of directors.
  • We notice that there is an amendment that establishes an Advisory Board.  The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey would like to see an equal number of health care advocate groups to the other groups on this board.
  • That the term “provider” be defined as only one doctor in only one location, not one doctor in multiple locations.
  • The Unitarian Universalist Legislative Ministry of New Jersey supports only Health Benefit Plans certified by the Boards, Boards with 50% representation by health care advocacy groups.
  • We support the inclusion of a Basic Health Benefits Plan in this Bill.
  • We support the inclusion of a larger pool, with business up to 100 employees and businesses over 100 employees.
  • And that any and all communication be at a sixth grade reading and comprehension level.

I thank you for this opportunity to speak.

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