Tag: Jon Bramnick

Bramnick: Independence of doctors must be protected

Source: NJ Spotlight -

The nearly eight-year campaign to rein in “surprise” medical bills in New Jersey — and better control escalating healthcare costs — will likely continue into 2017, as advocates for healthcare providers, payers, and patients have failed so far to reach consensus on how best to resolve out-of-network insurance disputes.

After a weekend of last-minute negotiations, Garden State lawmakers were prepared to vote Monday on an amendment that would have secured support from hospital leaders and possibly other healthcare providers. These stakeholders had vehemently opposed another version of the plan that would have capped their payments at a percentage of Medicare in an effort to stabilize the system and protect patients from unforeseen expenses.

But word of those changes prompted a new round of questions for others involved, including insurance companies, and the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Joseph Vitale, (D-Middlesex), asked Democratic leaders to postpone the bill’s hearing in the Senate Budget Committee. The committee currently has no other meetings scheduled this year.

But on Monday, the group — joined by a number of Republican legislative leaders — held a press conference to underscore their opposition to the Assembly version and target insurance companies for driving up costs and forcing medical professionals to set up practices in other states.

Jon Bramnick

“This legislation — don’t be fooled — is an attempt to bring all these doctors under the control of insurance companies,” GOP Assembly Leader Jon Bramnick said. “The only way this system stays a great system is we allow doctors independence. And this does just the opposite.”

Despite the delay, Vitale and others said they remain hopeful the issue will be resolved. “I remain confident that efforts of working to build consensus will result in the strongest consumer protection out-of-network bill in the country,” Vitale, the longtime Senate health committee chairman, said.

The measure would make New Jersey one of a handful of states, including California and New York, to have regulated out-of-network charges, and it has prompted significant attention from powerful healthcare industries and their lobbyists this year and a flurry of research from stakeholders seeking to shore up their arguments. Monday also brought a fiery press conference in which Republican leaders joined physicians to place most of the blame on insurance companies.

Charges from doctors and hospitals that are outside of a patient’s insurance network have become a growing concern; advocates for reform in New Jersey said 168,000 New Jersey patients now pay an extra $400 million a year in unexpected bills for unplanned, but non-emergency, out-of-network care. The rising costs behind these charges also added $1 billion to Garden State premium costs, they note, driving up costs for both public and private employers.

But patients aren’t the only group impacted by the current situation, in which costs are determined by a largely hidden matrix of government regulations, physician contracts, and insurance agreements, among other elements. Insurance companies have complained they are at the whim of healthcare providers, who can raise costs as they see fit; they seek a system that involves better cost controls. On the other hand, doctors and hospitals have argued that insurers have the upper hand in how they craft their coverage networks and establishing rates; these providers prefer a solution that reflects market rates for medical treatments.

The rancor is illustrated by a lawsuit filed in September by Carepoint Health, a Hudson County hospital chain that has remained out-of-network with a number of insurance carriers, seeking to recover an alleged $76 million in unpaid claims from Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield.

Members of the New Jersey Hospital Association had agreed to support the concept developed in recent weeks, and finalized during weekend negotiations, which would have relied instead on a more market-based approach, observers said. This compromise involved a three-part test — based in part on a model used in the federal Affordable Care Act — to establish an interim payment, with the final cost to be determined by baseball-style arbitration, in which both parties submit a price and an arbitrator picks one.

While the Medical Society of New Jersey and other physician groups who have opposed Medicare-based caps are frequently aligned with the hospital industry on the issue, it was not clear Monday if they would also support the potential amendment. MSNJ submitted testimony to the Assembly in October that indicated they would support elements of the solution preferred by the Hospital Association.

For consumer advocates, the bottom line is protecting patients and holding down costs over time. Maura Collinsgru, who leads the NJ For Health Care coalition for New Jersey Citizen Action, said her members can support either mechanism for resolving disputes as long as the method is fair and balances the interests of providers and payers, if the core patient protections are kept in tact.

Both versions of the bill seek to increase transparency around health plans and physician network status and would protect patients from being balance-billed, or invoiced for any costs left over after the insurance company settles with healthcare providers. While current state law prohibits insurance plans from balance billing patients, these consumers can still receive charges from providers. The measure would not apply to so-called self-funded plans, like those held by many large companies or the federal government, which aren’t regulated by state insurance law, but these employers could choose to opt in and benefit from the potential savings.

“There is a consensus this is a problem that has to be fixed and it has to be fixed now,” Collinsgru said. “We need to end this problem.”

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Bramnick extends best wishes for a happy Thanksgiving

Assembly Republican Press Release – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) issued the following statement as our nation prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving:

Jon Bramnick

“We are blessed to live in a free nation and grateful to the men and women in uniform who protect our freedom at home and abroad. Happy Thanksgiving to all. I wish everyone a safe and enjoyable Thanksgiving Day with family and friends.”

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Bramnick on special prosecutor: Even Trump not pursuing Clinton investigation

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick responded to news that Sen. Ray Lesniak has sponsored legislation requiring the attorney general to appoint a special prosecutor to investigate the governor’s involvement in Bridgegate.

“After three years of investigations by the United States attorney, appointed by President Barack Obama, and multiple legislative investigations, any further investigations are political in nature,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “The Democrats in the legislature should focus on the reform agenda to lower taxes and attract jobs to New Jersey. Even Donald Trump has indicated that he will not pursue further criminal investigations against Hillary Clinton. Let’s get back to the people’s business in Trenton.”

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Bramnick on talk of impeaching Gov. Christie: ‘Let the prosecutors deal with this’

Source: Excerpt from The Star-Ledger -

 

The Democrats who lead the New Jersey Legislature said Wednesday there’s no appetite — at least at the moment — to impeach Republican Gov. Chris Christie over the Bridgegate scandal and that more hearings on the controversy are unlikely.

Jon Bramnick

 

“If we want to investigate each other and that is the gameplay for the Legislature, I guarantee if I look at everybody in the audience, I can find something to investigate about you. … Let the prosecutors deal with this.” – Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick

 

Speaking at a panel about lawmakers’ goals for the next year at the New Jersey League of Municipalities conference, state Senate President Stephen Sweeney said it’s more important to focus now on the big issues facing New Jersey taxpayers, such as school funding and public worker pensions.

Two former Christie allies — Bill Baroni, an ex-Port Authority executive, and Bridget Ann Kelly, Christie’s ex-deputy chief of staff — were convicted earlier this month on charges that they closed lanes at the George Washington Bridge in a political revenge scheme in 2013.

Christie himself was never charged and has repeatedly denied he knew about the plot until much later. But David Wildstein, the former Port Authority executive who pleaded guilty to his role in the matter, said he told Christie of the closings while they were going on.

Impeachment means only that the Legislature would charge Christie with unlawful activity. Lawmakers would then hold hearings and vote whether to remove Christie from office.

Under the state constitution, impeachment proceedings must begin in the Assembly. Speaker Vincent Prieto said he’s not “looking to start” them “at the moment.” Not does he expect additional legislative hearings on Bridgegate.

But Prieto noted that he Sweeney said their legislative staffs are re-examining testimony from the trial to see if there was “something said to us that was not factual or contradictory.”

As for the Republican leaders of the Legislature? They simply want Bridgegate put in the past.

Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, a close Christie ally, said his priority is “to stop the negative.”

“If we want to investigate each other and that is the gameplay for the Legislature, I guarantee if I look at everybody in the audience, I can find something to investigate about you,” Bramnick (R-Union) said.

“Let the prosecutors deal with this,” he added.

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After ‘Bridgegate’ convictions, Bramnick opposes more investigation of lane closings

Source: NewsWorks -

The Democrats who chaired the New Jersey Legislature’s investigation of the lane closures on the George Washington Bridge want to restart their investigation, but the Assembly’s top Republican said enough is enough.

Jon Bramnick

Resuming those hearings would take lawmakers’ focus away from other issues, said Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick, R-Union.

“If there is some clear cut evidence of wrongdoing, I can guarantee you that the U.S. attorney would be following up on that,” he said Monday. “But for us now to continue down that path, based on all the time and energy that’s already been put into that, I think it’s a poor use of the time of government.”

Bramnick has urged legislative leaders to spend the next year focusing instead on policy and hearings on funding the pension system, changing the school funding formula, and campaign finance reform.

“We’ve had a jury verdict and it’s time to refocus on policy, and I’m saying there’s a place for investigations but it should not replace the work of this Legislature.

Last week, a jury convicted former Christie aide Bridget Kelly and former Port Authority executive Bill Baroni of all counts in connection with scheming to close lanes at the George Washington Bridge in a case of political payback in 2013.

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Bramnick statement following Bridgegate verdicts

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) issued the following statement after the verdicts in the Bridgegate trial.

“Now that Bridgegate is over and the jury has made its decision let’s continue to reform Trenton and stop using Bridgegate as a reason to stop the common sense reforms started by the Governor.”

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Bramnick thanks Kyrillos for his 30-years of public service

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick (R-Union) released this statement following the announcement Tuesday evening by Sen. Joseph Kyrillos (R-Monmouth) that he will retire after serving thirty years in the N.J. Legislature.

“Senator Kyrillos represented the civility and respect that is desperately needed in politics today. I thank him for his service to our state and to our party and wish him only the best.”

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Bramnick to meet with Irvington and Paterson mayors

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick announced Tuesday that he is planning to meet with the mayors of Irvington and Paterson to discuss solutions on the persistent problems within their communities.

“An urban tour is important to understand the issues facing our cities,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “I look forward to meeting with mayors Tony Vauss and Joey Torres and working together to find solutions.”

Bramnick, who is originally from Plainfield and served 6 years on the Plainfield City Council, has experience and interest in working with New Jersey’s cities.

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Bramnick on stage: Two N.J. lawmakers walk into a comedy club …

Source: The Star-Ledger -

Jon Bramnick

In the world of New Jersey politics, it’s no secret that state Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick sometimes moonlights as a standup comedian.

But on Tuesday, he won’t be the only member of the state Legislature telling jokes in front of a brick wall.

Bramnick (R-Union) and state Sen. Richard Codey (D-Essex) will both perform standup sets for charity that night at the Stress Factory in New Brunswick.

It’s not a shocker, per se. Codey, a former New Jersey governor, is often quick with a quip in interviews.

“He’s got some pretty good jokes,” Bramnick said of his colleague from across the aisle. “I’ve laughed at couple of his policies, too.”

The idea came when the two were playing golf together.

“I guess I played so bad, it was funny,” Codey said. “Jon said, ‘Hey why don’t we do this comedy thing?’”

Bramnick said despite the cracks at each other, the goal is actually to prove that members of opposing parties can get along at a time when partisan attacks are at an all-time high.

“In this world, you have incredible animosity,” he said. “So I thought, ‘Why don’t we put that to good use and do standup for charity?’ It’s really important to do things to show people we don’t hate each other.”

They decided they would play to raise money to combat Alzheimer’s Disease.

Vinnie Brand, the standup comedian who owns the Stress Factory, will open the show. Regular tickets are $40. VIP tickets — which include a meet-and-greet — are $50.

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Bramnick applauds Christie’s action to improve public education

Assembly Republican Press Release -

Jon Bramnick

Assembly Republican Leader Jon Bramnick applauded Gov. Christie for directing the state Attorney General to reopen the Abbott v. Burke case in an effort to retain and hire the best teachers.

“This action demonstrates the governor’s commitment to the success of students who are being left behind by an outdated public-education system,” said Bramnick (R-Union). “Charter schools in SDA districts have shown the ability to successfully graduate more students at a lower cost than traditional public schools. The Legislature must join the governor in advocating for students in failing districts and the taxpayers who can no longer afford the costs of this failed system.”

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