Oct. 10--TRENTON Getting nowhere with the Christie Administration, New Jersey lawmakers will turn to the federal government to delay the rollout of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield's new health insurance plan.
Sen. Nia Gill, D-Essex, and Sen. Joseph Vitale, D-Middlesex, on Friday asked the U.S. Federal Trade Commission to create a system that can ensure Horizon's plan won't compromise the quality of health care.
"We believe that there may be unintended consequences for New Jersey's consumers and potential antitrust issues," the senators wrote.
The letter is the lawmakers' latest attempt to postpone OMNIA, a plan introduced by Horizon for 2016 that it has said will be more affordable for consumers who use health care providers that are part of a network.
The plan, approved by the state Department of Banking and Insurance, created a political firestorm among some state senators. At a hearing on Monday, they questioned Horizon executives why some hospitals, like Barnabas Health, Meridian Health and Robert Wood Johnson Health System, were included in what it called Tier One, and others, like CentraState Healthcare System in Freehold Township, were left out.
The senators asked the Attorney General to intervene.
Acting Attorney General John Hoffman has to recuse himself from all matters involving Robert Wood Johnson Health System, his office said, because his father is chairman of the corporation that oversees the Robert Wood Johnson Health System.
It isn't the only case involving Robert Wood Johnson before the Attorney General. The health system in July announced plans to merge with Barnabas Health, creating one of the largest health care systems in the nation. It needs approval from the state Attorney General. That merger is expected to be completed in 2016.
The first assistant will review the merger instead, a spokesman for the Attorney General's office said.
The senators Friday said they still expect a response from the Attorney General's office to their request.
And they wrote to Edith Ramirez, chair of the U.S. Federal Trade Commission, asking her to "immediately intervene to delay Horizon from offering the OMNIA tiered plans and work to establish a permanent oversight mechanism for the process."
An FTC spokeswoman Friday afternoon said the agency had yet to receive the letter.
Michael L. Diamond; 732-643-4038; firstname.lastname@example.org
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