PROPUBLICA EXPOSES MASSIVE ABUSES IN NJEA-CONTROLLED SCHOOL HEALTH PROGRAM WHILE GOVERNOR MURPHY, NJEA PUSH THE “NJEA’S SOLUTION” IN THE LEGISLATURE
In late December, the investigative journalists at ProPublica did a great service to New Jersey citizens by exposing a major healthcare scandal – a classic case of hundreds of millions of dollars of government waste, (possible) fraud, and abuse. Unfortunately, ProPublica’s good work passed largely unremarked by elected officials and the media. Maybe it was the pre-holiday timing. But with Governor Murphy and the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) pushing a new NJEA-backed healthcare bill in the legislature (A-5814/S-4114) – dubbed the “NJEA’s solution” by the NJEA – all New Jersey should be aware of the massive abuses ProPublica found in the NJEA-controlled School Employees’ Health Benefits Program (SEHBP) and understand why they occurred.
Importantly, ProPublica revealed that this waste of taxpayer dollars could not have occurred without the NJEA-created and -controlled SEHBP. Due to skyrocketing costs, the State healthcare program for State employees, the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP), capped out-of-network payments in 2015. But the separate, NJEA-controlled SEHBP still permits unlimited out-of-network reimbursements and, despite being aware of the abuses, continues to stonewall needed reforms. The result is half-a-billion taxpayer dollars squandered on $677 acupuncture sessions. New Jersey citizens and their elected representatives should demand that this still-ongoing wrong be righted immediately.
The SEHBP was created by an insider deal between Governor Jon Corzine and the NJEA – then, as now, New Jersey’s most powerful special interest. A-5814 is another insider deal, this time between Governor Murphy and the NJEA. Before considering another NJEA-engineered healthcare bill, New Jersey’s elected representatives must recognize that there are hundreds of millions of dollars of savings at our fingertips if only the NJEA agreed to stop the abuses ProPublica exposed, or adopted the same health plans as our State government workers. But the “NJEA’s solution” leaves the scandal-plagued SEHBP unreformed while lowering school employee contributions for their most-generous-in-the-nation health benefits. Who is looking out for New Jersey taxpayers, the people who fund these exceptionally costly health plans with their hard-earned dollars?
New Jersey must learn from the ProPublica scandal. With Governor Murphy’s help, the NJEA is seeking to reshape the State’s government healthcare programs, but the “NJEA’s solution” is exactly as advertised: another good deal for New Jersey’s most powerful and well-connected special interest but another bad deal for regular, taxpaying citizens.