Daniel Santo Pietro, Chair of the Public Policy of the Latino Action Network (LAN) testified before the Senate Commerce Committee in support of the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act (S2135). If passed, the bill would set up a state-run insurance exchange as a way to give uninsured people a way to buy health insurance plans as part of the federal health insurance overhaul. Santo Pietro pointed out that Latino workers who are employed in service jobs that offer no health coverage and Latino small business owners and their employees are a large part of the uninsured population, about 400 thousand. Given the need to reach out to such a large portion of the Hispanics, he urged the inclusion of Latinos on the board of the newly created exchange. He also urged the bill's rapid passage and enactment into law in New Jersey, so we can all start the work that should be in high gear in early 2013 to move our state toward universal coverage. You can read Daniel Santo Pietro's full testimony below:
Testimony for Senate Commerce Committee
New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act
October 1, 2012
I am Daniel Santo Pietro, Chair of Public Policy of the Latino Action Network (LAN). LAN is a state-wide network of Latino leaders from community organizations, unions, academia, and professionals.
LAN has worked extensively on and supports fully the principles of the NJ Healthcare Coalition. It is critical that the Exchange created under this Act has a strong consumer bias if it is to realize its purpose. The State Health Policy Center has pointed out for over a year that the Exchange will have to do outreach to many low income people to be successful. What is particularly important to LAN is that Latinos will be one of the largest subgroup of consumers that will seek health coverage through the exchange.
Latino workers who are employed in services that offer no health coverage and Latino small business owners and their employees are a large part of the uninsured population, about 400 thousand. This leads us to two conclusions about S2135:
- The Board of the exchange must include expertise on this community and how to outreach them to use the exchange. No matter the final language of the bill, LAN will work with the Governor and Legislature to create a board that includes expertise on the Hispanic community.
- The political posturing about the Affordable Care Act must stop. It is clearly the law of the land and will be implemented as passed by Congress. It is not a perfect law and we expect changes will be needed to make it a better program, but any delay in setting up the exchange or attempts to subvert the real intention of the ACA will only mean hundreds of thousands of hard working New Jerseys will be denied health coverage longer. LAN and many other organizations will do everything possible to educate our constituency so they can hold accountable those that deny them decent healthcare.
We fully support S2135 and urge its rapid passage and enactment into law in New Jersey, so we can all start the work that should be in high gear in early 2013 to move our state toward universal coverage. Thank you.