Change in benefits bill would allow out-of-state care

Democratic lawmakers are scrambling to revise portions of the health benefits reform bill to allow the bulk of participants to use out of state healthcare providers, according to sources familiar with the plan.

The revision would place the out of state restriction only on the lowest cost plan available to public workers.  All other plans would allow public employees to travel out of state for medical care.

Currently, the new health benefits plan would place restrictions on employees hoping to use out of state providers and hospitals.  The restrictions do not sit well with the public employee unions who have accused bill sponsor Senate President Steve Sweeney of pandering to political boss George Norcross by adding in the out of state restriction.

Both Sweeney and Norcross have denied there was any collusion, but unions have fumed that in some cases members would not be covered if they choose to use hospitals in New York or Pennsylvania.  That includes Children’s Hospital of Pennsylvania, considered one of the best pediatric care hospitals in the area.

According to a fact sheet released by Sweeney on Friday, the current plan would allow an employee to continue to seek out of state health care already in progress if “it is deemed medically necessary.”  New out of state care would be covered only if similar care is not available in New Jersey. If an employee chooses to go out of state anyway, the care would be considered out of network and cost substantially more in out of pocket expenses.

Change in benefits bill would allow out-of-state care