Source: NJ Spotlight
Healthcare experts have urged the Murphy administration to prioritize efforts to grow and sustain insurance coverage, better integrate behavioral and physical care systems, improve end-of-life planning, and boost the use of data and other technologies.
A 17-page report reflects broad goals to improve social equity and boost the state’s productivity — common themes in Murphy’s campaign last year — and includes a half-dozen priorities with detailed policy guidance, much of which echo recommendations made in the past by key members of the transition team.
“Health is a prerequisite for full participation in the labor market and public life,” the report states. “A fairer economy requires that we invest in improving the health of the entire state’s population and address health disparities to ensure all New Jerseyans have access to quality, affordable healthcare and improved health outcomes.”
Murphy said the era of “ad-hoc policymaking” had come to an end. “We have thoroughly reviewed the Transition reports and have already started acting on some of the recommendations. We are excited to continue making progress and move toward a stronger and fairer New Jersey,” he said.
In fact, a number of priorities flagged by the transition team are already being addressed by the administration or the state Legislature, which must adopt measures to initiate several of the healthcare reforms. Efforts are underway to restore funding for women’s healthcare, to address costly out-of-network medical charges, and boost enrollment in the state’s Medicaid or FamilyCare program.
Healthcare programs in New Jersey are administered primarily by the Department of Health, which oversees public health, licenses facilities and — as of last fall — runs the state’s addiction and mental healthcare systems, and the Department of Human Services, which runs Medicaid, among other initiatives. Healthcare programs absorb roughly $20 billion annually, according to the transition report, including nearly $15 billion for Medicaid alone.
Some two-thirds of Medicaid’s funding comes from the federal government. Spending on the Affordable Care Act, much of which flows through Medicaid, has been a top concern for Republicans in Washington, D.C., leading to an ongoing effort to reduce the cost of these massive federal programs — changes Murphy and many others have said could be dangerous to the Garden State.
Murphy’s healthcare transition team included more than five dozen experts representing hospitals of all sizes, physicians, and public health professionals, mental health and addiction care providers, nursing homes, organizations serving individuals with disabilities, insurance companies, and other healthcare payers, academic and policy organizations, and community-based providers that work in some of New Jersey’s most challenging communities.
The group calls for an overarching “health in all policies” (or HiAP) approach that, according to the American Public Health Association, requires leaders across multiple departments or agencies to work together to address underlying factors influencing health, like access to healthy food and safe homes, now known as “social determinants of health.”