Wednesday, June 8, 2011

NJ Next in Line for Single Payer?

I started surfing 37 years ago. When I started I fell off a lot, of course, as I learned but over the years became proficient and now have graduated to the point where surfing is just part of normal every day life.

And so it will be with state run single source medical systems in my opinion. First there was Vermont, now it appears that a swell is building in New Jersey.

A coalition of New Jersey unions and political and health care reform groups has launched a push for a state single-payer health care system patterned after legislation signed into law by Vermont Gov. Pete Shumlin last month, which aims to fold workers' comp into group health plans.

The difference between proposed legislation in the Garden State and Vermont is that the New Jersey effort proposes up front rolling work comp into the single payer plan. Vermont did not do that, instead directing the state's insurance commissioner to study the issue and report back to the legislature by the end of the year before any decision is made about including work comp into the single payer system.

The New Jersey effort is being lobbied for by Labor, specifically a Rutgers University administrators' union, a New Jersey local of the United Steel Workers, the New Jersey chapter of the National Organization for Women, the New Jersey chapter of the Progressive Democrats of America, several local health care groups, and the New Jersey Black Issues Convention, according to the website of the New Jersey One Plan, One Nation Coalition.

These pioneering states will fall off the wave occasionally as it builds. But eventually will provide the direction and strategy for other states to paddle into the building swell.

Other states are going to be watching, studying and learning how to surf in this new ocean of opportunity.

We are in for interesting times over the course of the next 10 to 20 years. Whether you believe single source medical inclusive of work comp is good or bad, I believe this is a huge national trend that will be the forerunner for sweeping "reform" as opposed to the incremental changes that has been called "reform" in the past.

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