As Garden State residents continue to pay more and more for health care, Gov. Phil Murphy has announced a new program will study why costs continue to rise so quickly, and what can be done to bring them under control.

During a news conference in Trenton on Monday, Murphy announced the creation of the New Jersey Health Care Cost Growth Benchmark Program through Executive Order 277.

Holding the line on costs

“Making New Jersey stronger and fairer and a more affordable place to call home for our residents and businesses means working to address the high health care prices,” he said.

The governor pointed out health care costs have grown faster than the economy for decades, and continue to rise.

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He said increasing costs are burdening individuals, families and also the state, resulting in decreased funding for other priorities and “understanding the drivers of these unsustainable price increases is the first step toward making the cost of health care transparent and ultimately affordable.”

He said the Benchmark Program is vitally important because “health care spending should not and must not grow faster than the economy or our residents pocketbooks.”

How will this work?

He said in the short term this program will provide New Jerseyans with a clear understanding of how much health care costs are growing, as well as the factors that are contributing to this rapid growth.

Then, over time “the Benchmark program will move beyond transparency and data gathering to a focus on decreasing the growth of health care costs each year and ultimately making paying for health care more affordable.”

Murphy stressed quality of care will not be sacrificed in the name of savings.

“Rather we are determined to bring health care providers and payers together to develop innovative and sustainable cost mitigation strategies that also provide quality health outcomes.”

Who is involved in this effort?

He said a number of New Jersey departments and agencies will be part of this effort, working with an advisory panel made up of representatives of major hospitals, insurance carriers, unions, advocates, employers and more.

He said these advisory group members have signed a stakeholder compact signifying their commitment to reaching the objectives of the program “and ensuring healthcare in New Jersey is more accessible and affordable.”

New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride said “we are coming together with health care partners and employers to say that we are all committed to the shared goal of providing relief to residents in our state as they seek the quality care they need.”

She stressed the Benchmark program “will promote increased transparency and accountability for health care spending.”

The following organizations, advocacy groups, and businesses have signed onto the compact:

AmeriHealth New Jersey

Atlantic Health System

Camden Coalition of Healthcare Providers

Cooper University Health Care

Hackensack Meridian Health

Horizon Blue Cross / Blue Shield of New Jersey

New Jersey Association of Health Plans

New Jersey Citizen Action

New Jersey Health Care Quality Institute

New Jersey Hospital Association

NJM Insurance Group

Rutgers University AAUP-AFT

RWJ Barnabas Health

Sandkamp Woodworks

St. Joseph’s Health

Summit Health

Virtua Health

You can learn more about the program here.

You can contact reporter David Matthau at David.Matthau@townsquaremedia.com.

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