Senate President Steve Sweeney has introduced a new healthcare bill based on the recent deal between Sweeney and NJEA President Marie Blistan.
The bill appears to take notice of the recent ProPublica investigation into excessive and wasteful out-of-network reimbursements in the state-run health plans for school employees (as covered by SPCNJ’s “Unnoticed $500,000,000 Scandal Is a Warning to New Jersey“). A new plan to be offered to school employees will limit out-of-network reimbursements to chiropractors, physical therapists and acupuncturists, which was at the heart of the ProPublica scandal. This reform in itself could save $130,000,000 a year, according to ProPublica. The resulting lower premiums for the new plan could save the average teacher $2,000 to $5,000.
All-in, the new bill projects savings of $640,000,000 for school districts, $404 million for teachers and $30 million for the state. Those are big numbers, and far in excess of the savings in the bill posted last year by Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin. If achieved, they should relieve some pressure on districts and property taxpayers and allow school employees to take home more of their pay.
There are still details to be worked out as the new bill works its way through the legislature, but it addresses a wrong (the out-of-network payment scandal) and could lead to substantial savings across the board.
A compromise, yes, but it looks like a pretty good one.