Pubdate: Thu, 3 Jan 2008
Source: Asbury Park Press (NJ)
Copyright: 2008 Asbury Park Press
Author: Jim Miller


Proposed Bill Cost-Effective

About 1.4 million New Jerseyans lack health care coverage and our 
governor says we can't afford the solution. ("New Jersey eyes other 
states as it weighs health care coverage," Dec. 24.) Sen. Joseph 
Vitale, D-Middlesex, has been working on a plan that would require 
all state residents to have health care coverage that could cost the 
state $1 billion but we don't have the money to implement it right now.

There is another health care proposal that sat on Vitale's desk this 
legislative session. As chairman of the Senate Health Committee, he 
refused to post it for a floor vote. It's the Compassionate Use 
Medical Marijuana Act. The program's cost would have been negated by 
the registration fees charged to participants. It would have cost the 
state virtually nothing. It would have saved New Jersey money in 
other areas. Not only is the proposed bill financially feasible, it 
would have eased the suffering of so many seriously ill and dying residents.

On a radio call-in show during his campaign, Gov.  Corzine told me he 
would sign the bill into law if it reached his desk. He met my wife, 
Cheryl, shortly before she died and listened to her virtually beg for 
such a bill to be passed, telling him how it would be a great help to 
her. Considering that she couldn't move her arms or legs because of 
32 years of multiple sclerosis, Corzine should have had the good 
instincts to believe she was telling him the truth when she said 
marijuana relieved her pain and spasticity better than the $200,000 
in "legal" drugs the state's prescription program was willing to pay 
for her to have.

This proposed law will be swept off the table at the end of this 
session, and with it the hopes of thousands of sick and dying, 
clandestine medical marijuana patients. We failed to help those we 
could afford to help, then denied them an explanation. That is adding 
insult to injury in the most literal of ways. The sad irony is that 
as much as Vitale's mandatory health coverage plan will cost the 
state, it will not help people like Cheryl.

Jim Miller

Toms River 
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