New Jersey officials are planning steps to better protect patients from the impact of medical debt, building on an initiative Gov. Phil Murphy outlined last year to pay off health care bills now burdening tens of thousands of low-income residents.
Joel Cantor, a professor and director of the Rutgers Center for State Health Policy, acknowledged the “enormous burden” of medical debt but urged state leaders to focus on the underlying cause — the growing cost of health care along with rising out-of-pocket costs. “The Governor’s proposal would certainly give relief to many in need, but ultimately governmental subsidies to those in debt are not likely to be a long-term solution,” he said. “A much harder problem is reining in underlying medical cost inflation.”
“Under other policy initiatives, the Murphy administration is seeking more systemic solutions,” Cantor said. “In the meantime, stop gap debt relief may be the best many families can hope for.”