State Assembly Deputy Majority Leader Reed Gusciora announced on Monday that he will be introducing legislation to establish a single-payer healthcare system in New Jersey.
“For decades, we’ve treated healthcare as a privilege, and not a right,” said Gusciora, who represents Mercer and Hunterdon counties in the 15th District. “We’re the only industrialized nation that lets its citizens face financial ruin if they get sick. The fact of the matter is healthcare should be a right, not a privilege. If we introduce a single-payer system, we ensure that everyone will have access to healthcare.”
The Affordable Care Act allows states to establish health care exchanges for the purpose of connecting citizens with insurers matched to their needs. Gusciora said the act provides for considerable discretion to the states in designing and managing these exchanges; a single-payer system would be permissible under federal law.
By combining aspects from a variety of health care financing schemes, Gusciora said the single-payer system would alter the pathway by which care is paid for, while leaving patient rights and autonomy untouched. The patient would maintain control over all health care decisions, including which doctors they see and which hospitals they use without network restrictions, he said. The state government, as the “single payer,” would negotiate costs and foots the bill for care.
“Much like Medicare or Medicaid, under a single-payer system the government would negotiate rates with hospitals and insurers. Because of how many people they represent, government has a lot of clout, and can negotiate better prices than other organizations,” Gusciora said.
Gusciora said he drew inspiration for his plan from U.S. Bernie Sanders’ proposed federal single-payer system.
“I think that social equality and justice are on the minds of Americans now more than ever before. I think the time is right to make some big changes that will take us big steps in the right direction,” he said.
“Americans pay more for health care than any other industrialized nation, and our financing system is unique. It’s pretty obvious that’s where the problem lies,” Gusciora said. “When we pass single-payer care, we can demonstrate to the nation that there is a way to provide patient autonomy, quality care, insure all your citizens, and keep costs reasonable.”