Platinum Plus Health Care for All in New Jersey Is the Answer to
The Pension Fund Problem for Public Employees
(but Phil Murphy is not talking about it...)
I have listened closely to the debates between those who are a proponent of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) and those who are proponents of the American Health Care Act (Republican plan). In the middle of that debate, there is one very misleading reality. Both plans are not primarily about care. They are primarily about insurance. Both plans make the assumption that Americans are obligated to throw money into a poorly regulated private industry that is unnecessary and that takes away freedom of mobility in career paths, stagnates business, weighs down municipal budgets and even limits where we can go to get help when we are sick.
This is just stupidity.
Neither plan says outright what is the truth. The health insurance industry is bad for the American people because it adds exorbitant costs to all of our lives while driving down access to care, or, making care contingent on people’s wealth. I understand that wealth means some are able to buy a fancy sports car and others are not, but wealth should not differentiate the care one is able to get when sick.
“Blessed are those who mourn—for they shall be comforted.” That is a basic mantra of my religious tradition and it resonates with scripture from other faiths. In America, it’s more like, “damn, if you get sick, you’ll be totally fleeced. So, spend a ton on insurance, while you are well, just to make sure if you happen to get sick you’ll be in the clear.”
Health insurance is stupid and it’s mean.
Nowhere is the cost of health care more frustrating than when I look at the way that the high costs of health care is crippling the conversation of fully funding the pension fund for public employees in New Jersey.
In its extensive report called “Supplemental Report on Health Benefits, the ” the NJ Pension and Health Benefit Study Commission make the argument that the benefit package for public employees is just destroying the state budget. The commission makes a fair point that the cost of benefit spending has to be reined in. The entire report is committed to trying to fix the pension deficit while maintaining a high—but not quite as high—quality of health care plan for public employees. The goal of the report is to keep employee ‘benefits’ (health care/pension) under 15% of the state budget.
What bothers me about the report is that the Commission lumps Pension and Health Care together as benefits, and basically says, ok, given the high cost of the health insurance industry, we need to either lower your pension or lower the quality of your health coverage. The report makes a compelling argument that lowering the health insurance coverage is the answer.
While I agree, given the state of things as they are, that the report is probably right, what is totally WRONG is the fact that the answer in the report is, “we’ve got to reduce the quality of insurance for public employees because the rest of us can’t afford excellent coverage either—so join the club.” Excellent health insurance should not be a “benefit” in the same category as “pension.” Instead, it should be a NJ human right.
The primary races are underway for both the Democrats and Republicans. I’ve heard a lot about the economy, and the need for the next governor to really transform the economy, but no Democrat and no Republican is really talking about the thing that could transform our economy.
I believe that both Democrat and Republican voters can see the wisdom in providing CARE instead of INSURANCE. If your people aren’t thinking that way, then vote GREEN.
A Platinum-level Medicare for All People in NJ (no deductibles, no co-pays) that stops differentiating public workers, wealthy Wall Street people and the poorest of the poor, could allow us to stop calling health insurance a “benefit” and instead start calling it a New Jersey Human Right.
The cost savings from a true single-payer system for health care in New Jersey would free up billions of dollars.
The savings on health care costs would allow us to fully fund the pension system, it would allow businesses to move to $15/hr minimum wage without fear, it would allow mobility in the job market and take away a tremendous level of anxiety and increase the mental health of everyone in the state, it would lower all municipal/school budgets by at least 15%, it would allow our schools to put money into education instead of health insurance.
It’s ridiculous to live in fear of getting sick, not because you’re afraid of getting sick, but because you’re afraid of the cost of getting sick. It’s ridiculous for the state to be economically-sick because we’re throwing money away to what is an entirely unnecessary industry that hurts us rather than helps us.
I am the Green Party Candidate for Governor. It’s taken me a few months to get here, but after months of studying the New York Health Act that passed the Assembly in 2015, I believe that the key to a transformed New Jersey economy is for the state to provide Platinum-Level Medicare for All.
Let’s fix the pension problem
Let’s reduce municipal/school budgets
Let’s lower taxes
Let’s increase the minimum wage
Let’s free people up for job-mobility
Let’s actually care for people when they are sick
Let’s stop calling health insurance a ‘benefit’ and start calling health care a New Jersey human right.
The Last Are First