the staff of the Ridgewood blog
Newark NJ, new legislation allowing Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey to change its corporate form to a more modern structure and one that would enable the nonprofit to invest a far greater amount into emerging technologies — passed in the NJ Senate and General Assembly on Thursday afternoon.
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, headquartered in Newark, New Jersey is the only licensed Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association plan in New Jersey, providing health insurance coverage to over 3.2 million people throughout all of New Jersey.
The legislation (S3218/A5119) faced some opposition from progressive groups, but was overwhelmingly supported by the business community.
Horizon BCBSNJ Executive Chairman Kevin Conlin and Horizon BCBSNJ President and CEO Gary St. Hilaire issued the following joint statement after passage of legislation to allow the company to seek a modernization of its corporate form:
“Today’s vote recognizes that health care, and the expectations and needs of health consumers, are rapidly changing. Over the past three years, countless hours of discussion, deliberation, and critical thinking by many legislators, administration officials and stakeholders helped guide and improve this legislation. As a result, it achieves its goal of preserving Horizon’s historic member-focused mission while giving the company the flexibility to adapt and innovate to enable care that is more connected, more convenient, and more affordable. We thank everyone- particularly Senate President Sweeney, Speaker Coughlin, and our primary sponsors Senators Nellie Pou and Paul Sarlo and Assemblymembers McKeon, Downey, Wimberly and Clifton – who supported giving our 3.6 million members a better Horizon and look forward to making that vision a reality.
The legislation still needs to be signed by Governor Phil Murphy. After that, the change in corporate form still would have to be approved by the Department of Banking and Insurance and the Attorney General’s Office. All of these steps are considered a formality.
The passage of the legislation would amend the Health Services Corporation Act and create a process under which Horizon could apply to the state to become a not-for-profit mutual health insurer — a designation that would enable Horizon to invest as much of its reserves as it deems necessary in emerging technologies that could help the company and its customers, such as telemedicine.
Horizon, currently organized as a not-for-profit health service corporation under the Health Services Corporation Act, is limited to using only 2% of its reserves for investment in any one entity, regardless of the benefits — or cost savings.