Bipartisan Group of Bergen Legislators, County Officials Call for Minimum 90-Day Delay to Horizon OMNIA Plan Rollout

By Paul Nichols Bergen Dispatch

In a letter sent to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the Bergen County legislative delegation, the county executive and county freeholders call on the company to delay the rollout of its new plans by at least 90 days.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey recently announced the OMNIA Health Alliance and said it would soon offer plans in which patients would pay less to visit alliance providers and a select group of other providers known as “Tier 1.”

The OMNIA Health Alliance includes the state's largest health insurer, Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey, the Atlantic Health System, Barnabas Health, Hackensack University Health Network, Hunterdon Healthcare, Inspira Health Network, Robert Wood Johnson Health System, and the Summit Medical Group.

September 29, 2015
Robert A. Marino
Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer
Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
Three Penn Plaza East
Newark, New Jersey 07105 -2200
Dear Mr. Marino:

We are greatly concerned by the recent announcement of the OMNIA Health Alliance. The very late announcement of this new plan followed by incomplete information regarding the selection of which hospitals satisfied “Tier 1” requirements and which hospitals did not, has led to the perception that winners and losers were chosen behind closed doors. This is not how a market dominant non-profit insurance company is supposed to operate. 
Narrow-networks and tiered-provider networks have become a seemingly attractive option for consumers because of their lower premiums. However, quality of care and consumer satisfaction have not necessarily improved. Many examples show that adequate access to care, consumer choice and availability of information have all suffered. If the rollout of this plan is indicative of the way members will be informed of their coverage benefits, members are in for a rude awakening.
As the largest health insurance provider in the state, Horizon has an exceptional responsibility to our residents. We believe that transparency is paramount to that responsibility. As such, we respectfully request that rollout of the OMNIA plan be delayed by at least 90 days. This delay will give Horizon an opportunity to further educate members, employers, health care providers and lawmakers.
On behalf of the residents of Bergen County, we appreciate your consideration.
Senator Loretta Weinberg       
Senator Paul A. Sarlo  
Senator Bob M. Gordon
Senator Gerald Cardinale
Senator Kevin J. O’Toole
Assemblyman Gordon M. Johnson
Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle
Assemblyman Gary S. Schaer
Assemblywoman Marlene Caride
Assemblyman Tim Eustace
Assemblyman Joseph A. Lagana
Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi
Assemblyman Robert Auth
Assemblyman Scott T. Rumana
Assemblyman David C. Russo
Bergen County Executive James J. Tedesco III
Bergen County Freeholder Joan M. Voss
Bergen County Freeholder Steve Tanelli
Bergen County Freeholder John A. Felice
Bergen County Freeholder David L. Ganz
Bergen County Freeholder Maura DeNicola
Bergen County Freeholder Tracy Silna Zur
Bergen County Freeholder Thomas J. Sullivan
CC:  The Honorable Governor Chris Christie
         The Honorable Nia H. Gill, Esq
         The Honorable Joseph F. Vitale
         Acting Commissioner Richard J. Badolato, Department of Banking and Insurance