Senate Committee Approves Pilot Program For Public Employees With Chronic Health Conditions

Assemblyman Herb Conaway Jr.

Herb Conaway Jr.

TRENTON – The state Senate Budget Committee on Thursday approved bipartisan legislation that would establish a pilot program intended to encourage better health care practices by employees with chronic health conditions.

The bill (A-1214) would require the State Health Benefits Commission and the State Health Benefits Plan Design Committee to create a three-year pilot program to provide benefits coverage to select employees with chronic health conditions using a value-based benefit design under the State Health Benefits Program (SHBP). The following chronic health conditions would be targeted under the value-based benefit design: diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension and asthma.

“This program uses financial incentives to increase the employee’s interaction with appropriate health care providers, and encourage use of health benefits that will specifically address and help improve their chronic health condition,” said Assemblywoman Linda Stender (D-Middlesex/Somerset/Union), one of the bill’s sponsors in the Assembly. “That, in turn, should benefit taxpayers.”

“The underlying goal of this program is to increase the employee’s access to care and information that will help them control their condition and thus better manage the overall costs of their health benefits coverage,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway M.D. (D-Burlington). “That should lead to taxpayer savings that will benefit everyone.”

The committee would be charged with selecting eligible employees based on their chronic health conditions to participate in the pilot program. Participation in the pilot program is voluntary. Employees who choose to participate in the program would be offered the following incentives directly related to the diagnosis, care, mitigation or treatment of the condition:

  • All tuition costs shall be covered for any education class attended by the employee that provides medical condition self-management, recommended to the employee by the primary treating physician or assigned pharmacist.
  • All costs for private visits with the employee’s assigned pharmacist shall be covered
  • All costs shall be covered for a medical device or supply deemed medically necessary by the primary treating physician or assigned pharmacist.
  • All laboratory testing shall be covered.
  • All copayments for any prescription drug shall be waived.

“This is a smart, targeted approach that can improve someone’s quality of life and longevity while also saving significant dollars,” said Assemblywoman Annette Quijano (D-Union). “If successful, it could eventually be expanded to have an even greater impact.”

The commission would provide selected employees with coverage through one or more contracts negotiated and arranged with one or more carriers licensed to operate in the state. The selection of eligible employees would be based on a procedure determined by the committee.

Participants would be assigned a pharmacist, who in collaboration with the employee’s primary treating physician, would be responsible for coordinating medication therapy management services within the scope of the pharmacist’s license to practice pharmacy.

In order to remain a participant in the pilot program and receive these financial incentives, the employee must comply with all aspects of the value-based benefit design regimen, including, but not limited to: attendance at all medical appointments; adherence to advice or instructions provided by the primary treating physician or assigned pharmacist; and use of all prescription drugs as directed.

No later than the date of expiration on the pilot program, the commission and committee would have to issue a report to the Governor and to the Legislature, with a detailed summary of their activities, the application of the value-based benefit design coverage within the SHBP, and any recommendations with respect to the extension, modification, or expansion of the program.

The measure was approved 77-0-1 by the full Assembly in June and now awaits final legislative consideration by the full Senate.

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