NJ Gov. Chris Christie Looks To Mandate Insurance Coverage For Drug Rehab

Chris Christie

New Jersey lawmakers have vowed to move quickly on a new plan by Gov. Chris Christie that will mandate insurance companies to cover six months of outpatient or inpatient drug treatment.

Christie introduced the proposal during his State of State address last Tuesday (Jan. 10). New Jersey 101.5 reported that Christie claimed insurance companies far too often deny coverage for drug treatment and objected to middle-class families being left at the mercy of insurers as to whether they can help their loved ones.

“Whether your child lives or dies should not be the subject of a denial letter from an insurance company,” said Christie. “Rather than support and compassion and coverage, they’re too often met by questioning and red tape and denials by insurers who happily take their premiums at the same time.”

The governor vowed there would be “no more pre-approvals. No more medical necessity reviews prior to admission by an insurance company bureaucrat. No more denials that can cost lives.” He finished his proposal by declaring that “treatment first, hope first, denials last” is what the people of New Jersey deserve.

His plan has already been met with support by several legislative leaders. Assembly Minority Leader Jon Bramnick offered to introduce the bill, while Senate President Steve Sweeney promised to work to make it a reality in 30 days. Sweeney also took a swing at health insurers and said they “look at their bottom line rather than people.”

However, the bill has already been met with some resistance. During an appearance last Wednesday (Jan. 11) in the town of Toms River, Christie said the Department of Banking and Insurance sent him a seven-page memo advising against the mandate.

Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey held off on providing a detailed response to the proposal, but said in a statement that they have “a long history of helping New Jersey combat the addiction epidemic. We are eager to work with Gov. Christie and the legislature to ensure that those who need and want help ending their addiction have the opportunity to obtain affordable and appropriate treatment.”

Christie also proposed limiting initial prescriptions for opioid painkillers to a five-day supply. NJ.com reported that the plan was met with backlash from several doctors throughout the state, who called it both “cruel” to patients and an “intrusion” on the practice of medicine.