Uncertain Future Of Health Care Makes It Critical New Jerseyans Have A Voice In The Debate
By Christine Stearns
The presidential election has left many people uncertain of what the future might hold for health care. Certainly this is a natural reaction to any change in the administration in Washington. A new president always brings in a different vision and ideas. While it is too early to know what changes, if any, President-elect Trump may make, what we know for certain is this: it is critical that New Jerseyans have an outlet to both stay informed and provide feedback on health care.
Better Choices, Better Care NJ, a new organization launched in November, is committed to providing health care consumers – be they individuals, businesses, or organized labor – with education on health care, and an outlet to have their voices heard. Our interest is not in lobbying directly for legislative changes in Trenton. Rather, we have come together to engage directly with those most impacted by current and future health care policy: consumers. We want to provide education on how New Jersey’s health care system currently works, keep them informed of changes as they occur and take their concerns to those who can best effectuate change.
New Jersey’s current health care landscape is already cause for concern. New Jerseyans continue to see their premium and out-of-pocket costs go up, but they do not feel they are receiving better quality of care. More tests and procedures are done, more bills are sent, but better outcomes are not created.
Despite the many recent advances in health care, residents and businesses are still faced with an inefficient, costly and difficult to navigate health care system that results in high insurance premiums. A family of four in New Jersey pays an average of $1,246 a month for health care, no small price considering the high cost of living in our state. A recent study from Harvard University found that 28% of adults in New Jersey say they do not get good value for what they pay for health care.
It is more than just that, though. Consumers are frustrated by a system bogged down in health care jargon, surprise billing and guidelines and policies that require a team of lawyers to decipher. They do not understand their bills, what their health care options are or what questions to ask their doctors. Layer into these issues additional concerns on the future of Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, and you have a lot of people left wondering where to get answers and information, and how to have their voice heard.
Better Choices, Better Care NJ has launched with the goal of addressing these concerns. We will conduct consumer-driven engagement as part of examining and harnessing the changing health care landscape to create the best outcomes possible for New Jersey. This will include an in depth discussion on patient centered care, and moving away from the state’s “fee-for-service” system. But it will also include, as developments arise, updates and information on evolving or changing health care policy both in the country and New Jersey. Moreover, we do not have all the answers on how to best create change. That is why we will be working with health care advocacy and stakeholder groups in this endeavor. The more voices at the table, the better.
Through our website, https://betterchoicesbettercarenj.com, we have provided numerous opportunities for individuals, businesses and organized labor to give us feedback on what issues they are having with New Jersey health care, what information they would like to know more about and what changes they would like to see. We will also provide educational materials on health care best practices, host round-table discussions with the media and editorial boards, provide industry expertise when called upon, and host public policy forums that will offer opportunities to hear from industry experts on the latest in medical advances and health care policy changes.
We do not know what the future holds for health care in New Jersey. That does not mean, however, that we cannot keep consumers informed of the latest developments, educate them on best practices from around the country, and give them a voice in the debate. Only by doing so can we truly create a higher quality, less costly health care system in New Jersey.
Christine Stearns is the Executive Director of Better Choices, Better Care NJ, and is Director of Government Affairs for Gibbons P.C., a leading New Jersey law firm.
Editor’s Note: This piece is paid content.