Newark Faces ‘Astronomical’ Health Insurance Increases for City Workers

NEWARK, NJ – Newark is facing an “astronomical” cost of health insurance for city workers, and it could be a pain for taxpayers, officials say.

Based on the vote of the State Health Benefits Commission on Sept. 14, some New Jersey counties will see a 23 percent health insurance increase, while state employees will see a 21 percent increase. The cost increases will affect health plans for more than 800,000 state and local employees.

On Friday, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka issued a statement adding to the toll hike, which the city had “no control or say”.

The mayor said city officials are trying to find a solution to the problem.

“At a time when health insurance companies are making huge profits, plans to increase health care costs for New Jersey’s public employees are a betrayal of thousands of hard-working Newark families, who are already affected by the rising cost of living, ” he said. Baraka said.

“The city could be forced to bear the cost, which would squeeze the taxpayers,” Baraka said.

The mayor continued:

“Increasing these costs will only increase the financial burden on these dedicated workers, retirees, taxpayers and their loved ones. Although we are disappointed by this proposal, my administration is working tirelessly, day and night, to find effective solutions that will protect our employees from this significant increase.” “

Since open enrollment is approaching, and the State Health Benefits Plan (SHBP) – of which Newark is a member – “increases its prices,” the City of Newark is faced with an attempt to reduce this “astronomical increase” for its benefits. workers, retirees, and their dependents, Baraka’s office said.

The mayor’s office added:

“To deal with this migration, the city is going to the market to solicit comprehensive and self-funded health care plans from Blue Cross/Blue Shield (BCBS) of New Jersey and Aetna; seek to create a new pharmacy benefit plan; and work with HealthCare2U, a global company , to provide part-time workers who do not have medical coverage with access to non-emergency care. Based on current rates and payment methods, in order for the city to leave the SHBP, it would have to pay $32 million to the state, which represents our portion of the remaining medical resources and drugs, and administrative costs.

Baraka was not the only Newark candidate to criticize the increase.

Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz, who represents the city in the 29th district, said she was “disappointed” by the rate hike earlier this month before she became an official.

Ruiz wrote:

“The financial reality that we have faced due to this epidemic has been difficult. With the recent announcement of a double-digit increase in the health of public workers, the great concern about this matter is understandable. Although the health system around the world has increased by about 10. percent, the increase in the New Jersey does not have a solution to any problem, in the end it will lead to higher taxes. to reduce the financial problems this year and to reduce the long-term costs. the process, they must change the process so that this does not happen again, that is the unclear process that allowed the proposed proposals to be managed. Expanding the membership of the commissions to include representation of the sectors that will feel that the results are part l firm on the right path. “

“Health care funding and services are very important to everyone – they need to be managed effectively and efficiently,” added Ruiz.

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