Vitale blasts governor, Legislature for health care decisions he calls “morally reprehensible”

TRENTON – Sen. Joe Vitale, (D-19), Woodbridge, said Tuesday he was “disgusted’’ with the state of health care delivery in New Jersey, and blasted both the governor’s office and the Legislature for making decisions that are “morally reprehensible.”

He told an audience of more than 170 health care experts at the Trenton Marriott hotel that if things don’t change, “New Jersey is going to go the way of Mississippi, Alabama, with health care that is so substandard, so subpar.’’

He said that the health care reform – whether the governor’s or the one that Senate President Steve Sweeney is working on – will severely hurt those least able to afford the changes.

Whether having workers pay 30 percent of a premium as the governor proposes or using a sliding scale of contributions as Sweeney proposes will still prove unfair, and will not harm high wage-earners but will handicap those earning less.

“I am disgusted, angry and troubled by the inability and unwillingness of the governor and the Legislature to honestly care about doing what is right,’’ and setting aside “the interests of the greedy special interests,’’ Vitale said.

Further, he said the Medicaid waiver the administration is pursuing will severely hurt low wage-earners.

If it goes through, Vitale said, eventually the reality will be those earning over 25 percent of the poverty level but still struggling to make ends meet will go without.

“A single mom working two part-time jobs, making $12,000 a year,’’ Vitale said by example: “Under the waiver she won’t get Medicaid.’’

“If you are living in a cardboard box under the interstate, you’ll get coverage,’’ Vitale said. “But others? You’re screwed.’’

“This is absolutely wrong economically. Morally it’s reprehensible. Show me the budget and I’ll show you your values,’’ he said.

He said that under previous administrations, Democratic and Republican, they were able to make progress, saw increased access to health care, and achieved a decrease in charity care.

But he said the Christie administration is reversing those trends.

“It’s frustrating to listen to all of the rhetoric,’’ Vitale said. “Providers don’t think they make enough money. If we paid them what they thought they deserve, can you imagine the cost of health care?”

The costs, he reiterated, are borne by those least able to pay them, and are a result of what he called the “unacceptable greed of the lobbyists.’’

He said those people struggling to make ends meet can’t gain access to the basic health care that many of us take for granted.

And while it’s one thing for a major company to provide wellness programs for its work force, small companies – “the tool and die shop up the street,’’ he said – don’t have the financial wherewithal to provide the same thing for their workers.

Vitale blasts governor, Legislature for health care decisions he calls “morally reprehensible”