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The New Jersey Business & Industry Association opposed three new proposed health insurance coverage mandates released by Senate committees Thursday because the bills had not been reviewed by the independent state commission tasked with determining the impact on policyholders’ premiums and the state budget.

NJBIA Vice President for Health and Legal Affairs Mary Beaumont said the cost of providing health insurance to employees has consistently ranked as the top concern of New Jersey businesses. This is why it is important that all new coverage mandates be evaluated by the Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission for an objective assessment on the impact the bills would have on the cost of benefits.

“NJBIA places a strong focus on the quality and affordability of health insurance in New Jersey,” Beaumont said. “With the cost of health coverage steadily climbing, it is crucial that the impact of all coverage mandates be carefully evaluated.

“The role of the commission is particularly important considering that employers continue to cope with rising costs for healthcare coverage,” Beaumont said. “According to the most recent NJBIA Health Benefits Survey, the average premium paid in New Jersey for single employee coverage is $7,044 and the average premium for family coverage is $17,580.”

Beaumont noted the proposed bills could also potentially impact the state budget because the federal Affordable Care Act (ACA) requires the state to defray the cost of any new mandate that exceeds the Essential Health Benefits (EHBs) designated by the state as benefits that must be covered under plans sold in the ACA marketplace.

“New Jersey included all the mandated benefits that had been enacted at the time when it determined the state’s EHBs,” Beaumont said. “This is why a cost analysis and review by the Mandated Health Benefits Advisory Commission is very important because the cost of this mandate would be imposed on the New Jersey state budget.”

The three bills approved by the various legislative committees on Dec. 14 include:

  • S-2649 (A-389) by the Senate Commerce Committee requiring health insurance plans to provide coverage for certain amino acid-based elemental formulas for the treatment of eosinophilic disorders;
  • S-2976 by the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee requiring insurance policies to cover the cost of human breast milk provided by human milk banks;
  • S-837 by the Senate Budget & Appropriations Committee, that would double the length of time a newborn is covered under a parent’s policy before the parent has to enroll and pay for the child’s insurance under a private plan (or enroll the child in a state or federal government program, such as FamilyCare).

Beaumont noted that S-837 extending the timeframe for newborn coverage is also in direct conflict with the ACA’s provisions regarding special enrollment provisions.