New Jersey: Should We Deem Healthcare a Right or a Service?

NJ Spotlight | Revitalizing NJ’s Healthcare Industry, One Hospital at a Time.

To answer this question, or rather give my opinion of what the answer should be, I must dwell a bit on my past. Please be patient.

There were, generally speaking, two types of opponents against Castro in Cuba: Those who wanted to topple Communism and those who wanted to topple Tyranny. I belonged to the latter group and at 20 I did not realize that the two were hand in hand and that all political systems, regardless of ideology,  resort to tyranny in order to maintain control as they reach their extremes. Say that such is the human condition.

In any event, to jump to the point here, I always gave credit to the Cuban regime – and still do – on two counts: The universality of a free and effective public education and the availability of good healthcare to all at no visible cost – of course everyone was paying for it but indirectly, in the gigantic pool of a super-centralized economy.

When I saw this article this morning, I decided to explore the issue in the context of our society – profit-oriented, capitalist, and where health care is for the most part a business. The article addresses two bills currently in the New Jersey Legislature which attempt to rescue hospitals which are no longer profitably or in operation. Symptomatically of the way we look at healthcare, the article cites in its first paragraph what could be the fundamental concerns of the writer, or society?, jobs, revenue (a nice word for earnings), and taxes.

Nothing wrong with having those concerns but the fundamental question is whether the hospitals are necessary for their communities.We must determine case by case. That is what the Legislature is attempting to do in a way by enticing the private sector to rescue those institutions. If the institution is not needed, a quasi Darwinian selection may happen.

Government is the voice and arm of society and it has some core functions. Public health is amid that core. Is healthcare at the heart of public health or not? From my perspective, healthcare and public health are interchangeable.They are one and a social issue as well; one of the core roles of government.

Healthcare and its price will exert a very powerful force on the economy of New Jersey for years to come. Most of the growth in the state is attributable to healthcare jobs. At the same time, the price-tag of healthcare is choking off other industries which could be growing were it not for healthcare. Can the economy of New Jersey run on healthcare alone? Certainly not, like we can not drive a car running on one piston only.

Now I must end by saying that at this point I do not have a healthcare reform plan of my own. I have outlined some steps in my program but I do not pretend that there is a plan. I do not know enough to draw a plan. But what I can unambiguously affirm is that I see a significant role in healthcare for the state government, if I am elected governor of New Jersey in 2013.

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Health Insurer Suit Challenges Maine Regulators

Insurer profits at issue in Anthem Health Plans of Maine suit – The Washington Post.

The ruling, when it comes, although in a state court could set a precedent for other states. If the insurer prevails, we could see higher insurance premiums for everyone in New Jersey.

Health insurers ask to keep rate-increase data secret while rates go up 9% for New Jersey public sector.

Health Insurers Ask to Keep Rate-Increase Data Secret – NYTimes.com.

Insures provide such date to the states to justify their  exorbitant  yearly increases but the data is not open to public inspection. It should be and if elected governor in 2013, New Jersey will join those states seeking transparency in the actuary information used by insurance companies to calculate their premiums.

As far as I know, New Jersey is not among the states seeking transparency.

http://www.nj.com/news/index.ssf/2011/10/heath_care_rates_to_rise_by_9.html

Same increases are affecting the private sector and individual policy holders.

Furthermore, I intend to seek legislative action to give the state the ability to intervene in controlling premiums not only for individual policy holders but for large groups as well.

N.J. Taxpayers, public workers stuck with high cost healthcare plans

Committee creating new health plans for N.J. public workers misses deadline | NJ.com.

Both the governor and senator Sweeney had promised to create cheaper options which would reduce the cost to both taxpayers and employees.

They haven’t delivered. The government is efficient at stem-rolling the bargaining rights of workers but when it comes to genuine reforms, it is either lethargic or blatantly indifferent.

Let’s not forget that the adoption of cheaper plans could cut into the profits of the insurance giants who in turn are major political contributors to both parties.