N.J. looks into cutting health costs

    New Jersey officials are examining ways to reduce public employee health-care costs.

    One idea being considered is a program that began in North Carolina.

    The “Asheville model” would have the state pick up the co-pay, medical treatment and drug costs for workers with chronic illnesses such as asthma and diabetes. To get that benefit, patients would have to complete several hours of education about their illness and agree to follow nutrition and medication advice.

    Assemblywoman Linda Stender said Monday indications are that it would be worth the expense.

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    “What we’ve seen in the implementation of this model across the country in cities that have done it that were self-insured, that their health-care costs dropped by thousands of dollars per person,” she said.

    One of the proponents of the Asheville model said that for every dollar spent on the program, health-care costs for the chronically ill can be cut by four dollars.

    The Assembly government committee is considering a pilot program for New Jersey to determine if the state can get similar savings.

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