We’re moving into 2018 with uncertainty on the federal level, new leadership on the state level, and our own ambitious plans to make health care work better for the people of New Jersey. There is no time to waste.
I’m sharing with you an outline of our 2018 goals to make real impact, as we did in 2017. We look forward to engaging with Governor Murphy’s administration, the Legislature, and all of you. Here are our objectives:
Preserve and protect the gains we made as a result of health reform.
We will continue to jointly run our Health Care Reform Workgroup with Senator Joe Vitale and look forward to engaging the Administration in considering all short term options available to states to shore up their individual and small employer insurance markets. A state based individual mandate requiring people in New Jersey to have health insurance is one idea. Another is to create a reinsurance program to lower premiums — and ultimately, we must forcefully address the high cost of health care so more people can find affordable coverage.
Improve New Jersey’s Medicaid program and protect it from federal cuts.
The Department of Human Services and the Governor’s Office must improve our enrollment system so people don’t lose coverage because of cumbersome bureaucracy. We need to make it easier for providers to join the networks and accept Medicaid patients —and then improve network directories so patients can more easily find the Medicaid providers they need. We don’t want people turning to hospital emergency departments because they can’t find a primary care doctor. We outline these and other recommendations to improve and modernize our Medicaid program— for both patients and taxpayers — in our Medicaid 2.0: Blueprint for the Future. We are continuing this work with many of you.
Improve maternity care to help new moms and their babies.
We absolutely can, and must, do better to support New Jersey mothers and give their babies, our next generation, the best start in life. We need to lower our Cesarean-section rates and eliminate early elective deliveries. Multiple elements of health care must come together: the Administration (across agencies), insurance plans, health systems, providers and patients. We must improve pre-natal and post-partum care, improve access to social services, and align the payment systems to reward the providers whose patients, both mothers and infants, have the best outcomes. Fortunately, many of you are working on this issue with us. We need all hands on deck for this one.
Help patients with end-of-life care wishes
We can improve care for patients and support their families by ensuring people get the end-of-life care they want. And only the care they want. The Quality Institute’s Conversation of Your Life Program (COYL) will expand this year from seven to 10 counties as we help people prepare and express their end-of-life wishes. To make real impact, we need to engage communities and work together with health systems, providers, local and county leaders, including mayors, county surrogates, health officers, senior centers, libraries and local religious leaders. We also need a statewide registry of POLST forms to make that information accessible across providers and facilities. This is the year to do it.
Improve population health and wellness
We must focus on improving the overall health of Garden State residents. For starters, that means helping people increase their physical activity, improve their eating habits and reduce their stress. We also must strengthen primary care. We’re working on these goals through our Mayors Wellness Campaign (MWC). Multiple initiatives within the MWC focus on: chronic disease prevention and management; access to healthy foods; and improving health literacy. Our Mayors, community partners, and members continue to inspire us with their creativity and commitment to making their communities healthier places to live, work and play. Soon we’ll be awarding our “Healthy Town” designations to select towns across New Jersey and sharing our improved MWC toolkit to support these efforts throughout 2018 and beyond.
Please join us in working on these 2018 goals and share your own with us. I know that any success we achieve will come from the dedication and talent of our members — and I look forward to working with you all in the year ahead.