Horizon Bill is a Money Grab

Maura Collinsgru

The Legislature seems to be rolling out the red carpet for Horizon and favoring monied health care industry interests who have cooked up this restructuring plan to rob the public of an estimated $7 billion in assets, which Horizon is obligated to place in a trust for public health needs upon restructuring. If Horizon is truly interested in investing in a better health care future for the people of New Jersey they could do so by lowering premiums and expanding benefits and coverage.

These special interests have buried the facts. Namely, that this bill will allow Horizon to shift billions in public assets of the company into the hands of corporate interests and their investors. Horizon’s claim that they are maintaining their non-profit status and charitable mission is not true. Billions are being funneled to for-profit subsidiaries; the mission is an empty promise.

The consumer’s and the public’s voices in this effort have barely been heard in this orchestrated process. Monied interests have had the lion’s share of time before the Legislature with exclusive opportunities to present half-truths, deflections, and obvious spin. They tout the money that NJ would receive in this deal, but in reality it is a small fraction of what rightfully belongs to the NJ public. This is a money grab, plain and simple.

The Legislature needs to slow down and stop favoring industry reps with greater speaking time over consumer advocates, in hearings not open to the public. We need multiple hearings that the public and advocates can meaningfully participate in and not be sidelined to bury inconvenient truths. Lawmakers need to take their time to understand what these special interests are asking them to do, and how NJ will suffer as a result. This is all in the middle of an historic pandemic that has led to a loss of tens of thousands of New Jersey lives. We need investments in public health now more than ever. This is not the way to accomplish that.

-Maura Collinsgru, Health Care Program Director, New Jersey Citizen Action

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