New Jersey lawmakers who met with the top official of Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield are optimistic about progress toward resolving differences that have shutdown state government offices for three days.
Lawmakers have been unable to come to terms on legislation to regulate the state’s largest insurer. Governor Christie wants a Horizon bill as part of a deal to approve a budget that would include additional spending Democrats have proposed.
Horizon chairman Robert Marino says he had a very productive meeting with Senate President Steve Sweeney and Assembly Speaker Vinnie Prieto.
“I do appreciate the opportunity to have met with them and expressed my concerns with the bill. I think it was a good conversation. There were a lot of open minds in that room and we’ll see where we go from here.”
Senator Joe Vitale says lawmakers haven’t firmed up a deal yet.
“I wouldn’t say that we’re any closer. I’d say we’re not farther apart. We had a good conversation today. So it’s going to continue. We’re going to be here until we can get this done.”
Vitale and Speaker Prieto say legislative staff is working on the language of a bill.
Senate President Steve Sweeney is hopeful it can be ready for lawmakers to consider soon, but it’s still uncertain how long the government shutdown might last.
“It couldn’t end today if we wanted it to. Because if we could get something done, you’d have to draft a bill, you’d have to have a hearing on the bill. We could get moving tomorrow, but then you’d have to get emergencies in both houses in order to vote on a bill tomorrow.”
All indications are that state parks, recreation areas, and historic sites will be closed for the July 4th Holiday.