The who’s who of Hudson County politics, including Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) and U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8), gathered at Christ Hospital to denounce Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield’s proposed OMNIA insurance plan.
The tiered insurance proposal, referred to as OMNIA Health Alliance by Horizon (the largest New Jersey insurance provider), would offer discounted healthcare for 34 hospitals, and 22 of those hospital will receive higher reimbursements from Horizon, according to a report by NJ Advance Media from September 12.
However, Hudson County officials are not thrilled with the plan, since CarePoint Health – Christ Hospital in Jersey City and the Bayonne and Hoboken University Medical Centers – as well as Palisades Medical Center in North Bergen, are not currently a part of the OMNIA “Tier 1” plan that boasts savings on premiums, deductibles and co-pays.
Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop said OMNIA could impact 60 percent of the hospital beds in Hudson County, “which could be catastrophic for healthcare delivery in this entire region.”
Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto (D-32) stated that urban areas appear to be getting shortchanged by OMNIA, adding that the scenario would have a serious impact on public employees.
State Senator Nick Sacco (D-32), also the North Bergen mayor, explained how leaving Palisades Medical Center out of the mix would negatively impact North Hudson and South Bergen Counties.
Bayonne Mayor Jimmy Davis expressed his displeasure with residents of his city potentially being left out in the cold by OMNIA. U.S. Rep. Albio Sires (D-8) exclaimed that OMNIA would defeat the purpose of having affordable health care.
State Senator Sandra Cunningham (D-31), Hudson County Executive Tom DeGise and Hoboken Freeholder Anthony Romano (D-5) also took the podium during the event.
During a question and answer session with the media, Prieto clarified that the measure would be administrative, as opposed to legislative, both the Assembly and the Senate will be having hearings on the subject.
Cunningham said the first Senate hearing on the topic will be October 5, which is necessary since registration for OMNIA will begin in November before the new program takes effect in January.
Others in attendance included Hudson County Sheriff Frank Schillari, West New York Mayor Felix Roque, Weehawken Mayor Richard Turner, Guttenberg Mayor Gerald Drasheff, Freeholder Chairman E. Junior Maldonado (D-4), North Bergen Freeholder Anthony Vainieri (D-8), Jersey City Freeholder Gerard Balmir (D-3) and Democratic Assembly nominees Anette Chaparro (D-33), as well as Angela McKnight and Nicholas Chiaravalloti (both D-31).
In a statement, a representative from Horizon said there are currently a lot of misconceptions about OMNIA:
Horizon will offer the same broad network health plans as they do today next year. Horizon is not taking anything away from consumers.
Horizon will offer a new suite of lower-premium health plans next year. These plans will allow consumers to choose additional out of pocket savings by using certain doctors and hospitals.
The current Hudson County’s hospitals in Horizon’s managed care network – Jersey City Medical Center, Bayonne Medical Center and Hoboken University Medical Center — will remain in the network for both sets of products.
It is important to know that 55 percent of Hudson County physicians will be in “Tier 1” in the new plans, which will allow greater out of pocket savings for consumers.
Horizon looks forward to addressing the questions and misconceptions about its new plans when we participate in legislative hearings on the OMNIA Alliance on October 5.