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TRENTON – Consumers and small businesses in New Jersey will face significantly higher insurance premiums and could see costly coverage denials and price discrimination if efforts to repeal the federal health care law prevail in Congress or in the courts, according to The Cost of Repeal: Examining the Impact on New Jersey of Repealing the New Federal Health Care Law, a new report released today by NJPIRG.
According to the report, in the short term, repeal would strip tax credits from 163,500 New Jersey small businesses. And over the longer term, the cost of offering employer-based health insurance could jump by more than $3000 a year over current law.
“In today’s economy, the higher costs that would result from repeal are the last thing that New Jersey consumers and businesses need,” said Jen Kim, NJPIRG Advocate.
Kim was joined by Assemblyman Herb Conoway, chair of the Committee on Health and Senior Services, who expanded on the potential consequences of repeal: “New Jerseyans would lose critical consumer protections, Medicare recipients would see higher prescription drug costs, and New Jersey would not receive funding to establish a health insurance exchange.”
Also present was Kevin Wilkes, head of the Princeton Design Guild, who said that his small business already spends $52,000 a year providing health care for its employees, and that repealing the health care law would make it harder for his business to compete for work.
The new NJPIRG report draws on data from independent sources, including the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, other government agencies, business groups and health analysts, and finds the following:
· Repealing the new state health insurance exchange would drive premiums on the individual market up to 20% higher for the same coverage by 2016.
· Rolling back last year’s law would drive up employer health costs, leading to 10,281 fewer jobs created per year in New Jersey by the end of the decade.
· Outright repeal would pull $9 billion in federal Medicaid dollars out of the state's economy and terminate establishment or expansion of 134 community health centers across New Jersey.
The House is expected to consider a repeal bill later this month. And Washington's intensely partisan debate over health care threatens to spill over to New Jersey, as the Governor and state legislators consider key implementation decisions.
The Cost of Repeal recommends a set of pro-active policy changes on which supporters and opponents of last year’s health care law should be able to find common ground. These include:
1. Using the substantial authority the state has under current law to design a health insurance exchange that is adapted to meet the needs of our state’s markets, consumers, and businesses.
2. Taking additional steps to contain health care costs, like using information technology to ensure that doctors receive the latest research about which treatments are most effective – at the patient’s bedside.
3. Crack down on balance-billing, a practice whereby hospitals or providers accept payment from a patient’s insurance plan, then charge additional amounts-above and beyond the usual co-pays and cost sharing.
"Before our elected officials join this headlong rush to repeal in Washington, they should consider the consequences for our state, and look for solutions that hold down costs, not increase them," said Kim.
NJPIRG, the New Jersey Public Interest Research Group, is a non-profit, non-partisan public interest advocacy organization. For more information, visit njpirg.org, or find us at facebook.com/njpirg.
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