Health Plan for New Jersey Jockeys Launched

Jockeys in New Jersey have a new health insurance plan.

from Monmouth Park

A trust fund established for the health, welfare, and benefit of New Jersey jockeys has taken effect and will provide insurance coverage for healthcare, dental, and vision insurance for riders that meet the criteria set forth under the terms of the trust.

The fund, known as the New Jersey State Jockey Health and Welfare Trust, was endowed by money generated from handle at the state’s off-track betting facilities. Since the opening of the first OTB parlor in 2007, money has been held in escrow by the New Jersey Racing Commission; the first release of funds came just two weeks ago.

“This plan will revolutionize healthcare in the racing industry,” said Angelo Chinnici, medical director for the New Jersey Sports and Exposition Authority, which owns Monmouth Park and Meadowlands. “The steps taken in creating this trust for New Jersey riders are a prime example of how Monmouth Park takes care of its own and remains committed to the health, safety, and welfare of our riders.”

In addition to funds generated by OTB handle, the trust will receive funds from the riders who are members of the group. Jockeys will pay $15 per New Jersey mount fee, up to 300 races per year, to the trust fund in order to pay the premium for the insurance policy, which is written by United Healthcare.

Robert Kulina, vice president of racing and general manager at Monmouth; Terry Meyocks, Jockey’s Guild national manager; and jockeys Joe Bravo, Chris DeCarlo, and Chuck Lopez will serve as trustees.  Chinnici will serve as the trust’s medical adviser; Dennis Drazin will serve as legal adviser; and, Tom Kennedy will serve as the trust’s attorney.

In order to qualify for inclusion as a member in the catalog health plan, a jockey must ride in New Jersey for a specific period; ride a certain number of races; or a combination of both. A formula to determine jockey eligibility was established by the trustees, advisers, and NJRC executive director Frank Zanzuccki.

New Jersey becomes the fourth state to provide health insurance to its jockeys, following California, Delaware, and Pennsylvania.

The 2009 Monmouth racing season runs from May 9-Sept. 27.