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The New Jersey Business and Industry Association (NJBIA), appreciates the opportunity to provide our comments on Assembly Bill 3, which expands health insurance coverage for the treatment of substance abuse and restricts initial prescriptions for opioid medications to a five-day supply.

As Governor Christie highlighted in his State of the State address, New Jersey, along with the rest of the United States, is in the grip of and struggling with a drug addiction epidemic. This epidemic impacts our entire state, including the 20,000 employer members of the Association. NJBIA understands this is a serious problem and is particularly concerned about its effect on our member’s employees and the employer’s ability to ensure a well-functioning and productive workplace. The National Safety Council has estimated the economic costs to the American workplace exceed $30 billion annually.

The Association places a strong and consistent focus on the quality and affordability of health insurance in New Jersey. The cost of providing health insurance to employees is one of the most significant challenges facing employers today. It is consistently ranked the number one problem facing our members in our annual NJBIA Business Outlook Survey.

According to our 2016 Health Benefits Survey, NJBIA members continue to provide health benefits coverage as an important way to attract and retain employees. However, with the cost of healthcare steadily climbing, the ability to do so becomes increasingly more difficult year after year. This is especially critical for the 85 percent of NJBIA members with 25 or fewer employees who will see their health insurance premiums significantly impacted by Assembly Bill 3. These members reported average premium cost increases of 12.3 percent in 2016, when the average premium in New Jersey for single employee coverage was $7,044 and $17,580 for family coverage.

The Governor has stated that there will be many different pieces necessary to solve the drug addiction problem – prevention, treatment, detox, post-recovery, and others – and it is important, ultimately, that the right balance of services are available to those who need them. On behalf of our members who must continuously deal with rising healthcare costs, we respectfully ask you to consider the overall cost impact of the bill.

Thank you for your consideration.

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