WEST ORANGE – Citing the danger to the lives of residents of the State and the restrictive provisions contained in the newly released Health Benefits bill (S2973) that would force employees to pay 100 percent out-of-pocket for a doctor that operates outside of New Jersey if the insurer certifies that an in-network doctor in that particular field exists within 25 miles of the employee’s home, Sen. Richard J. Codey (D–Essex) released the following statement:
“I am disgusted and outraged to see in this bill a provision that would penalize all public employees for seeking medical help from a physician outside of New Jersey. There should be no debate on this clause – simply put, section 76 of the bill must be deleted.
“First this bill strips away the right to collectively bargain health care which is bad enough, and then it dictates to those same employees who they can and cannot seek treatment from.
“When an individual is sick with a serious ailment and your life hangs in the balance and a specialist is required to treat you, one does not simply go to the doctor closest to home, you seek out the best medical treatment available.
“It is unconscionable that this bill, when enacted, will force public employees to decide between going to the best doctor available and not being permitted to have coverage for that care or stay close to home and see a potentially less qualified doctor, but receive coverage.
“This is policy run-amok. We are not talking about widgets here; we are talking about people’s lives.
“An individual should have the right to choose the best doctor in the field that they seek services in, and at times that doctor may not be in New Jersey and is why scores of residents in the State are treated in New York City and Philadelphia.
“Under the present system, if the best doctor you choose is located at Sloan-Kettering or Hospital for Special Surgery in New York or is at Children’s Specialized Hospital in Philadelphia and is in-network you would be reimbursed. Under this bill, in the future, depending on where you live in New Jersey and the available doctors within 25 miles of your home, you may not have any medical coverage if you choose to seek treatment at these facilities.
“This provision would create second- class citizens of public workers when it comes to health care and would erect a wall around the State for them with a sign that says: ‘if you exit you are on your own – good luck with the bill.’”