The Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee met on Monday to discuss proposed legislation that would allow Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield to convert from a health service corporation to a mutual holding company.

Horizon executives and consumer advocates spoke to committee members about the bill, sponsored by Assemblyman John McKeon (D-Essex, Morris), and its goal of allowing the company to reorganize so that it may invest in health services and diversified businesses that ultimately benefit subscribers.

Upon the conclusion of the hearing, Chairman McKeon issued the following statement:

Our health care systems must be able to adapt to changing circumstances in order to truly help members.

“Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield has served our state for decades and is the oldest, largest health insurer in New Jersey. While the health care field has significantly changed and advanced throughout the years, this organization has been limited in what it can do with its assets.

“As it currently stands, Horizon cannot make many of the investments it needs in order to provide the highest quality care to its 3.5 million subscribers. This bill would amend existing statute to allow Horizon to implement the necessary infrastructure to invest in diverse and innovative health services while still maintaining its not-for-profit mission.

“These changes would help Horizon offer more competitive, stable premiums and meet the evolving needs of its members.

“Evolution is really the key idea behind this legislation. Just as the most successful animals on our planet thrive by adapting to their environment, we need to recognize when the time has come to facilitate the evolution and modernization of this longstanding organization.

“I want to emphasize that nothing about this bill would change Horizon’s level of oversight or steer it away from its charitable mission. The idea is to help Horizon build on its mission of ‘empowering members to achieve their best health,’ which is why we made sure to include a ‘can’t convert clause’ that prohibits conversion to a private, for-profit organization.

“Our committee will only pursue that which is in the best interest of members, the public trust and our state as a whole.

“Thank you to everyone who testified before our committee today to address the intent and impact of this legislation. I look forward to working to advance legislation that benefits the people of New Jersey.”