State Shutdown Ends; Devil Lurks In Details

By Eric Dixon

This report is a blend of “news” and “commentary,” so you’ve been warned.

Here is the news. The state shutdown is over. Governor Christie lifted his executive order of Saturday. Parks, state beaches and so on will be open Tuesday, July 4th. Courts and Department of Motor Vehicle offices will be fully open Wednesday.

As for commentary…

The so-called “Horizon” bill is cause for cautious optimism. Assembly Speaker Vincent Prieto objected (as did a good number of non-Christie-sycophant Republicans) to the potential raiding of the Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield reserves (all of which come from customer payments of monthly premiums) for basically whatever the state wanted to do. 

Instead, the new bill (which you can read here) requires excess reserves to be reduced with a plan “to benefit subscribers [i.e., consumers].” (Go to page 5 of the bill, lines 36-44.) Now, what those three words actually mean will be open to debate, and shrewd operators can exploit the lack of specificity to make mischief and possibly claim that all sorts of selfish or narrow causes “benefit subscribers.” On the other hand, the future allows for opportunities to clarify this unnecessarily vague section. 

What we do have here, for what it’s worth, is a declaration that, for a rare instance, consumers come first. 

At a minimum, it makes Speaker Prieto’s firm stance on this issue worthwhile. Then again, successfully negotiating against a historically unpopular, lame duck governor who is being scorned worldwide during the negotiations is not necessarily a grand achievement. 

That is a huge move forward from Governor Christie’s misguided (or mendacious) drive to shift your premium dollars to druggies in rehab.