NEWARK — The Christie administration has not commented on a report that Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield offered a compromise on his suggestion it should use its "abundant surplus" to expand health-care services for people with low incomes.

In his budget address last Tuesday the governor said the insurer would "embrace the opportunity" to partner with the state on such a fund, despite the chuckles from legislators. Officials at the health insurance company opposed it, though legislative leaders didn’t dismiss the idea. The governor did not specify an amount.

Horoizon Blue Cross Blue Shield spokesman Kevin McArdle in a statement said the company spoke to members of Christie's senior staff about entering into a "financially significant partnership with the administration to fund an unspecified health care related initiative." No amount was mentioned in the statement. McArdle is a former employee of New Jersey 101.5.

"The discussion ended after it was clear that Horizon could only support a partnership that avoided a negative impact to member reserves, included measures — such as out-of-network reform – that offset our proposed contribution, and spanned two years," the company said in a statement. "Horizon also sought to ensure funds would be used to benefit New Jersey's Medicaid population. Our goal was to find a way to work with the Governor while lowering the cost of health care and health insurance for our members." reported that the amount discussed was $135 million.

"Horizon remains committed to improving the health and well-being of New Jersey and to partnerships that achieve those goals, but will oppose any effort to reduce member reserves and make health insurance more expensive and less secure," McArdle said.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at

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