Rep. Malinowski opened the conversation by highlighting how successful the American Rescue Plan Act has been in helping more Americans find health insurance coverage: “The impact has been tremendous for lower income beneficiaries. We’re providing essentially free health coverage for a much broader range of Americans and middle-income beneficiaries.” Rep. Malinowski noted that there is a strong interest in making those changes permanent.
Mitch Vidovich, Vice President of Government Affairs at Independence Blue Cross, highlighted how the Affordable Care Act Special Enrollment Period, created to help alleviate the economic ramifications associated with the pandemic, has helped many people in New Jersey find health insurance coverage on the state’s health insurance marketplace. Regarding telehealth, he also noted: “We’ve seen a 10,000% increase in telehealth encounters last year and about 50% of that was mental health related. I hope in the rearview of this pandemic that will be one of the silver linings making mental health treatment more available and comfortable.”
Andy Aronson, President of the Health Care Association of New Jersey, detailed the role the American Rescue Plan Act played in helping nursing homes and assisted living facilities throughout the state. Without the assistance they received from the federal government, he said, they would not have been able to get through this pandemic.
Madeline Ferraro, Chief Government Affairs Officer and VP of Government Relations and Public Affairs for Atlantic Health System, applauded Rep. Malinowski for his response during the darker days and months of the pandemic. With new COVID-19 variants emerging, she highlighted the need for further Congressional support.
Sara Sooy, Somerset County Commissioner Deputy Director, shared that Somerset County could not have provided the services it did without the federal dollars that Rep. Malinowski helped secure. She also added that “it’s important we make sure we have proper private-public partnerships. That’s how we’re really able to address [constituent] concerns and make those day-to-day decisions a little bit easier.”
Jerry Starr, Executive Director of the Jewish Family Services of Somerset, Hunterdon, and Warren Counties, highlighted the role Medicare, Medicaid, and private health insurance providers played in expanding access to telehealth services.
The event concluded with Rep. Malinowski thanking all the participants and letting them know his office is always open for similar conversations designed to address major issues impacting public health.