Senator Bob Singer (R-30) said a proposed tax on commonly prescribed opioids would make health care more expensive for both patients and providers during the current public health emergency.
Sen. Bob Singer said a proposed tax on commonly prescribed opioids would make health care more expensive for both patients and providers during coronavirus pandemic. (©iStock)
“The opioid tax proposed by Governor Murphy wouldn’t improve access to care or make health insurance more affordable for families hit with rising premiums, nor would it fund treatment programs for those struggling with substance use disorders,” said Singer, the ranking Republican member on the Senate Health Committee. “What the governor has proposed is nothing more than a money grab that would funnel millions of dollars at the expense of patients into the black hole of the State budget to pay for spending completely unrelated to health care.”
The proposed $15 million opioid tax is one component of more than $1 billion of tax increases announced by Governor Phil Murphy this week in support of his newly proposed State Budget for 2021. In addition to the tax increases, the governor’s plan also relies on more than $4 billion of borrowing to support higher levels of spending next year.
Singer noted that opioids are important medications that are critical to the care of a wide range of patients, including those hospitalized with life-threatening cases of COVID-19.
“Opioids are commonly used to sedate patients who need to be put on ventilators, including thousands of New Jerseyans who were hospitalized with COVID-19,” said Singer. “Is the governor seriously suggesting we should make health care more expensive during a global pandemic? That’s absolutely nuts.”
Singer said opioids are often the only form of pain management that works for patients battling cancer and to comfort those receiving end-of-life care in hospice. They are commonly used in epidurals provided to women in labor and during surgeries.
“We don’t make any aspect of health care more affordable for patients by taxing it,” Singer concluded. “The governor’s opioid tax is the wrong thing to do.”
Singer’s comments echoed the concerns raised by a coalition of groups, including the New Jersey Pharmacists Association, the Garden State Pharmacy Owners, the Chamber of Commerce Southern New Jersey, the Homecare and Hospice Association of New Jersey, the New Jersey Council of Chain Drug Stores, and the New Jersey Business & Industry Association.
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