Another NJ Task Force

This one is called the “State Health Benefits Quality and Value Task Force” and consists of 16 members (list at bottom of this blog broken down between government employees, lobbyists, and union representatives) all with vested interests in keeping their own aspects of the dysfunctional status quo in place.

Though Executive Order No. 31 does have its informative and delusional parts:

WHEREAS, New Jersey’s state government, local government, and school employees deserve health care coverage that delivers quality health outcomes while being a good value for enrollees and taxpayers; and
WHEREAS, the State Health Benefits Plan (“SHBP”) and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Plan (“SEHBP”) together cover over 800,000 active and retired members in New Jersey, nearly one-tenth of the State’s population; and WHEREAS, these employee and retiree health benefit costs are projected to be approximately 8.4 percent of the State’s overall FY 2019 Budget, at $3.2 billion; and
WHEREAS, New Jersey is committed to producing fiscally responsible budgets that continue to invest in the health and welfare of a strong public workforce, while also ensuring resources are available for vital new initiatives such as modernizing our transit system, strengthening our schools, and making higher education more affordable; and
WHEREAS, to achieve these goals, New Jersey seeks to support public employees and be a good steward of state resources, while identifying new ways to get the best value for our health care dollars; and
WHEREAS, unions representing public employees are rightfully concerned with ensuring that health care coverage for their members is sufficiently comprehensive, and should be seen as partners in the effort to maximize the value of health care expenditures; and
WHEREAS, a comprehensive review of employee and retiree health benefits programs is necessary to identify strategies to improve the value of our state government, local government, and school employee health care investments to achieve better health outcomes and better management of the costs of employee and retiree health benefits; and
WHEREAS, such a review should be conducted by State officials and stakeholders who represent a variety of perspectives and who have the expertise to develop innovative solutions; and
WHEREAS, this review will provide the State Health Benefits Commission (“SHBC”) and the School Employees’ Health Benefits Commission (“SEHBC”) Plan Design Committees with opportunities for the State to be a leader in the broader effort to design, purchase, and deliver health care services more efficiently and effectively;
NOW, THEREFORE, I, PHILIP D. MURPHY, Governor of the State of New Jersey, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and by the Statutes of this State, do hereby ORDERand DIRECT:
1. There is hereby created the State Health Benefits Quality and Value Task Force (the “Task Force”) that will evaluate the employee and retiree health benefits systems and make recommendations to provide quality and value in the State’s health benefits in a cost-effective manner.
2. The Task Force shall be composed of at least 16 members, including the State Treasurer or a designee, serving ex officio; the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance or a designee, serving ex officio; the State Comptroller or a designee, serving ex officio; the Commissioner of Human Services or a designee, serving ex officio; and 12 public members, who shall be appointed by the Governor and shall serve at his or her pleasure, as follows: four individuals who have experience, knowledge or expertise in the areas of health policy and/or procurements; six representatives from six different employee organizations; one  representative from the New Jersey League of Municipalities; and one representative from the New Jersey School Boards Association. The Governor shall select a chairperson from among the members of the Task Force.
3 All public members of the Task Force shall serve without compensation. The Governor may, as determined to be appropriate, appoint additional members to the Task Force, who shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
4. The Task Force shall organize as soon as practicable after the appointment of its members, and shall convene as often as practicable and as requested by the Governor or chairperson.
5. The Task Force is authorized to call upon any department, office, division or agency of this State to supply it with data and any other information or assistance available to such agency as the Task Force deems necessary to discharge its duties under this Order. Each department, office, division or agency of this State is hereby required, to the extent not inconsistent with law,to cooperate fully with the Task Force within the limits of its statutory authority and to furnish it with such assistance on as timely a basis as is necessary to accomplish the purposes of this Order. The Task Force may consult with experts or other knowledgeable individuals in the public or private sector on any aspect of its mission.
6. The Department of the Treasury shall provide staffing for the Task Force to the extent permitted by law and within existing appropriations.
7. The objectives of the Task Force shall include, but not be limited to, the following:
   a. Examining the current and future costs of employee and retiree health benefits to State and local government workers and to the State and local governments;
   b. Identifying opportunities for short-term improvements, including best practices in health management, potential efficiencies to improve health outcomes, and plan design opportunities; and
   c. Exploring long-term reforms for the broader employee and retiree health benefits system.
8. The Task Force shall be purely advisory in nature, and shall release recommendations as appropriate.

Members of the State Health Benefits Quality and Value Task Force include:

State government experts

  • Department of Treasury (Treasurer Elizabeth Muoio)
  • Department of Banking and Insurance (Commissioner Marlene Caride)
  • State Comptroller’s Office (Comptroller Philip J. Degnan)
  • Department of Human Services, Chair of State Health Benefits Quality and Value Task Force (Commissioner Carole Johnson)

Health policy/ procurement experts

  • America’s Agenda (Mark Blum)
  • Princeton’s State Health and Value Strategies (Heather Howard)
  • Rutgers Center for State Health Policy (Joel Cantor)
  • Seton Hall Center for Health Law and Pharmaceutical Policy (John Jacobi)

Unions, employers

  • Communications Workers of America (Hetty Rosenstein)
  • New Jersey Education Association (Kevin Kelleher)
  • AFSCME (Steve Tully)
  • American Federation of Teachers (Donna M. Chiera)
  • International Association of Fire Fighters (Pete Nowak)
  • Policemen’s Benevolent Association (Kevin Lyons)
  • NJ League of Municipalities (Michael Cerra)
  • NJ Schools Boards Association (Jonathan Pushman)

9 responses to this post.

  1. Posted by rdquinn on July 22, 2018 at 3:09 pm

    I don’t see and private sector employers. There is no real life perspective. Ironically I served on the last Codey task force chaired by non other than Phil Murphy. That did little as will this one.


    • Do you know how many times Congress has had “committees” to study Social Security and figure out how to “save it”? Too many to count using both hands and feet. And the results are always the same; cut benefits & raise taxes. In the end those are the ONLY two answers. It is not rocket science, just simple math, 2+2=4. Yet politicians still cannot add up 2+2….


  2. Posted by boscoe on July 22, 2018 at 3:36 pm

    If one were cynical, one could point out that the Task Force:

    1. has no legislative participation;
    2. is purely advisory;
    3. seems to be focused mainly on “Identifying opportunities for SHORT-TERM improvements, including best practices in health management, potential efficiencies to improve health outcomes, and plan design opportunities;”
    4. has no reporting deadline;
    5. has already had most of its work done by the 2015 Pension and Health Benefits Advisory Commission; and
    6. is constituted to ensure voting gridlock, or at least majority/minority reports.

    So it’s a good thing that no one here is cynical…..


  3. Posted by Tough Love on July 22, 2018 at 6:24 pm

    How about adding a MAJORITY of financially educated/informed PRIVATE Sector Taxpayers with the VERY reasonable/justifiable/appropriate goal of reducing the now “Platinum+” PUBLIC Sector healthcare coverage to a level such that the Taxpayer SUBSIDY towards Public Sector healthcare benefits (separately measured for actives and retirees) is equal to that typically granted Private Sector workers by their employers …………… and significantly noting that for the retiree group, in the Private Sector, that subsidy is typically ZERO.


    • Posted by rdquinn on July 22, 2018 at 6:47 pm

      I tried that in 2005 and nothing worked. They bussed in union workers to complain with no idea of where their benefits stood relative to the average taxpayer.


      • Posted by Tough Love on July 22, 2018 at 7:24 pm

        I’m sure commentator Steven Douglas (aka EARTH) will find that irrelevant, because (in his mind) Public Sector workers are “special” and deserving of a MUCH better deal than the Taxpayers who pay for almost ALL of it.


  4. Posted by geo8rge on July 23, 2018 at 8:33 am

    The work of the unpaid TF will then be done by people who have other income and who are willing to work in exchange for public honors and possible future access. Rich people, people under the employ of rich people, the children of rich people (sometimes called trust fund kids or interns).


  5. I have come to the conclusion, and am about 100^% positive, that there is ONLY one person who can cure the New jersey pension mess and make the tough hard choices of cutting benefits to some degree to make the system healthy; and ONLY one person, and that is John Bury.


  6. Posted by skip3house on July 25, 2018 at 11:34 am

    i need your help. blocks me from commenting on 7/25 ‘Big changes to school funding, though allowing a comment families should pay own schooling costs… mine below……
    …..”….The state pays about half of the overall spending on New Jersey’s public schools…”
    Only solution based on ability to pay would be NJ pay All… The ‘half’ not paid now from fairer progressive NJ Income Tax brings many families closer to destitute status, increases NJ low-cost housing crisis, puts unfair burden on average families, incurs cost of rebates and formula balancing, and actually a boon to wealthy whose homes assess lower than proportional to their incomes.
    Move entire NJ school costs to incomes, lowering residential property taxes about 60%….making NJ affordable to the regular 85%+ of us. My examples show a $3000/year decrease in total taxes for average families. What does your study show?


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