NJ nurses gather to protest OMNIA

New Jersey nurses continue to show their opposition to Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield's OMNIA plans and alliance.

Nurses from three state hospitals gathered Feb. 25 at Newark (N.J.) Penn Station to reiterate their concerns about the insurer and its plans, according to a NJ Spotlight report.

The nurses are from Teaneck-based Holy Name Medical Center, Elizabeth-based Trinitas Regional Medical Center and Ridgewood-based The Valley Hospital. They believe the insurance plans will harm many of New Jersey's smaller, community or safety-net hospitals as consumers migrate to the Tier 1 hospitals that can offer greater savings, according to NJ Spotlight.

Nurses spoke directly to legislators, as well as other political movers and shakers boarding a train for Washington, D.C.

The protest marks the latest in the ongoing controversy surrounding Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield's OMNIA plans and alliance. Horizon's low-cost OMNIA plan appears to be popular with some consumers, and policy experts claim the model is increasing in popularity nationwide, according to the report. But in an attempt to block the advertising of OMNIA plans, a number of Tier 2 facilities filed a lawsuit against Horizon in December, according to NJ.com.

In January, Horizon filed a lawsuit against Holy Name Medical Center and The Valley Hospital, claiming the hospitals have led a "false and misleading campaign," according to NJ.com. And some lawmakers have expressed concern, and have re-introduced eight bills intended to improve the design of similar insurance plans in the future, according to NJ Spotlight.

Horizon has defended the tiers in its new plans. "We've been more transparent about the tiering criteria than any other insurer," Horizon spokesman Tom Wilson said, according to NJ Spotlight. "The current system is broken, medical costs continue to rise at rates that exceed inflation, and most of our critics focus their energy complaining instead of offering solutions that deliver lower cost and better quality. New Jerseyans deserve solutions that, like OMNIA, deliver high quality at an affordable price."

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