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N.J. lobbyists bring health care battle to the capital
Associations for lawyers, doctors,

                                                   Christina Mazza
hospitals among voices in debate
          By Andrew KitchenmAn
It Is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to
shape the nation’s health care policy, and
trenton business associations haven’t missed
the opportunity to weigh in.
       as Congress prepares to move forward on
changes to the health care system, New Jersey
doctors and hospitals — as well as the thou-
sands of employers who bear much of the cost
of health insurance — have spent recent weeks
working directly to sway representatives, and
indirectly through national associations.
       the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce
has been among the most vocal, cofounding a
national organization, Employers for Quality
Health Care, intended to make sure that state
employers’ voices are heard on the issue.
       Chamber of Commerce President Joan
Verplanck said the state chamber communi-
cates constantly with those in other states. she
said they learn from one another, and have
paid special attention to Massachusetts, the
first state with a health-care mandate.
       “It turned out to be much more expensive
than anybody anticipated,” Verplanck said.
       Verplanck said chamber members aren’t                    Joan Verplanck, president of the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce, says the chamber is constantly talking with other states to learn about various forms of health care.
against reform, and support changes to make
private insurance more accessible and afford-                                                                                   In order to make more of an impact                   pitals, with nine hospitals closing since 2007.
able, but would prefer incremental changes to                        Inside                                               nationally, the society has joined with a del-                   U.s. Rep. Rush Holt (D-West Windsor)
a sweeping plan.                                                     n Insurers, hospitals blast public option,           egation of doctors’ groups from states south of            said he has heard from small-business owners
       Michael T. Kornett, chief executive of                        but some small businesses welcome it.                New Jersey.                                                about health insurance for years, and has met in
the Medical society of New Jersey, said the                          Spotlight, Page 19                                         On the other hand, the New Jersey Hospi-             recent weeks with business people and doctors.
society is in constant contact with the ameri-                                                                            tal association has used a variety of tactics to                 He said it’s hard to generalize about the
can Medical association about developments                           New Jersey is unique in that its doctors             get its message out, from members attending                range of opinions business owners hold, but
in Washington.                                                  tend to be in small groups or be solo practitio-          town hall meetings hosted by congressmen in                most are concerned about the cost of insur-
       While Kornett is particularly concerned                  ners, compared with other states, where more              the state to lobbying through its staff member             ance. He said the House bill would address
about seeing tort reform included in the leg-                   doctors practice in large groups.                         in Washington, D.C., according to spokeswom-               this by allowing small and sole-proprietor
islation, he said the state has about 19,000                         “anything that’s imposed on the small                an Kerry McKean Kelly.                                     businesses to join pools to receive group
practicing doctors and 75,000 lawyers: “You                     group, that adds to their overhead, just about                  she said a particular concern is the possibil-       insurance rates. u
can see how the deck really gets stacked.”                      puts them out of business,” he said.                      ity of seeing lower reimbursement rates for hos-                            E-mail to

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