Union Lawmakers Particularly Concerned with Impact Exclusion of Trinitas will have on Elizabeth Residents
Assembly Democrats Annette Quijano and Jamel Holley (both D-Union) on Tuesday derided the new plan proposed by Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield (HBCBS) that would effectively prevent half the state from accessing affordable, local hospital services, particularly residents in their Union County district.
Horizon announced last week that it was forging a “tier one” partnership with only 34 hospitals throughout the state to offer lower out-of-pocket costs, which will result in increased costs for patients who visit more than half of New Jersey’s hospitals, including Trinitas Regional Medical Center in Elizabeth.
“Trinitas saw nearly half a million visits last year from Union County residents, the vast majority of whom are from Elizabeth,” said Quijano. “These are working families with limited incomes who can’t afford thousands of dollars in out-of-pocket expenses if an emergency arises that requires a hospital visit. Not only does this hamper their access to quality, affordable care, but it also jeopardizes the financial solvency of Trinitas and the many other hospitals shut out of this elite status. This is a dangerous move and I plan on doing everything in my power to ensure that it does not disproportionately harm select New Jersey cities.”
“This is an alarming move on the part of Horizon,” said Holley. “Elizabeth is the fourth largest city in New Jersey and now our state’s largest health insurer is threatening to leave residents without a tier one Blue Cross Blue Shield provider, a move that would also threaten the long-term viability of Trinitas Medical Center. This plan would essentially make it unaffordable to get sick in New Jersey if you don’t live in proximity to a Tier One hospital, especially for those who rely on public transportation. I intend to work with my colleagues in Trenton to make sure this proposal does not decimate access to affordable health care for those who need it most.”
Quijano and Holley noted that the exclusion of Trinitas is all the more surprising given the hospital’s volume – 18,000 inpatients, 73,000 emergency visits and over 400,000 total outpatient visits yearly – and the fact that it has been the sole Union County provider for Horizon’s exchange product offered pursuant to the federal Affordable Care Act, which Horizon surprisingly announced it is withdrawing in January.
The lawmakers stressed that they intend to work with state officials to closely scrutinize the proposal to make sure that it does not jeopardize the delivery of healthcare to working class families in New Jersey’s urban cities, in particular.