Fulop holds virtual Town Hall on statewide Health and Human Services proposal


Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop held a virtual town hall meeting last night on his Health and Human Services proposal as part of his gubernatorial run.

By Daniel Ulloa/Hudson County View

“We’re not running for a title. We’re running to transform and change New Jersey for the better … Experience matters in this job,” Fulop asserted, noting that this is his fourth extensive policy paper released since he declared his candidacy about a year ago.

He had previously rolled out plans for transportation, housing, and public safety, noting that Gov. Phil Murphy (D) reinserted the corporate business tax into the budget to fund NJ Transit after Fulop had publicized the idea.

On Health and Human Services, Fulop said healthy food access is a serious issue in various parts of the state and that Jersey City has given vouchers to seniors and providing grants to corner stores and bodegas that promote a healthy diet.

Additionally, he noted that his administration has sought to address homeless issues by fostering the newer St. Lucy’s shelter, which opened last year, as well as that Jersey City has been consistently advocating for legal cannabis.

“We’re in a place where cannabis is legal in New Jersey. Jersey City has been probably the biggest advocate for that,” Fulop declared.

He noted they sought to decriminalize it in 2018 before the signing of legalization in 2021. Fulop has continued support for it by allowing more cannabis dispensaries in Jersey City, with roughly 48 expected when it’s all said and done, far more than any other municipality.

“We’re letting the free market decide,” he noted.

Fulop also noted their work with the Diversity and Inclusion office to ensure residents from all backgrounds can find employment, as well as that prisoner re-entry began to take off when he hired former Gov. Jim McGreevey to run the now defunct Jersey City Employment and Training Program (JCETP).

“It started here really in 2013 with our council willing to fund and support that,” Fulop claimed.

Women’s health is another issue they have worked on by collaborating with Planned Parenthood to provide services to low-income people and immigrants via a pilot program.

“It’s indicative of how I would act and react as Governor,” he said, noting that he wants to enhance early childhood care and paid leave.

Hospital consolidation was another big issue he wanted to address, as well as insurance monopolies like Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

“How Horizon integrates with the legislature and how the hospital system integrates with the legislature is a byproduct of, I believe, the political system we have here. “The political lines lead to … a corruption tax. You don’t have scrutiny over legislation,” Fulop declared, echoing what he said during the rollout of his plan last month.

“Creating these mega systems that squeeze out the smaller systems. The private practices then are beholden to the hospital system. It is something that the governor should confront directly and we will.”

He noted that Horizon’s actions often lead to higher costs for municipal employee health plans, which increase taxes.

“There’s a lack of competition. “They operate in Trenton with a sense of entitlement,” Fulop declared, noting that their board has a lot of former and current politicians.

Through a spokesman, Horizon as quipped back that Jersey City has used them as their municipal healthcare provider since he took office.

During the question and answer session, Lloyd Alterman noted Jersey City passed a resolution endorsing Medicare for All. He added there is a New Jersey legislative bill on it and was curious about Fulop’s thoughts.

“I am a supporter of Medicare for All … There hasn’t been a state that has done it and done it well,” Fulop declared, noting that they’re studying California’s approach to it.

Anthony Brusca was curious about the state providing more funding for Medicare.

“What are your thoughts on paying for healthcare? What would you advocate as governor?” he asked.

“I don’t know what flexibility obviously we have on the federal level. More competition on the state programs … is a good thing. The healthcare system is broken today on the costs. We’re the only country that does it this way,” the mayor replied.

Furthermore, Shayne Cytrynbaum was curious about his opinion about supporting local agriculture and urban farming on a statewide level.

“Jersey City runs one of the largest municipal urban farm programs. We’re in the process of building 10 farms … growing leafy greens. It’s within our housing site. It’s something we wish to emulate and encourage statewide,” Fulop explained.

Later, Fulop criticized Horizon and consolidating hospitals working together. He said consolidation is squeezing smaller hospitals, which have ongoing issues with reimbursement.

“It’s impossible for independent providers to compete anymore. You’ve seen less and less hospital systems here and it comes at the expense of good patient care … Monopolies are not good in any industry,” he added.

He said he spoke with a hospital executive who sought to justify their actions despite acknowledging the issue at hand.

“Nobody is calling foul on it. It comes as a detriment to all of us,” Fulop concluded.

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