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Corzine to pay own bills

Hospital charges could cost him hundreds of thousands

TRENTON - Gov. Jon S. Corzine will forgo his state health insurance and spend hundreds of thousands of his own money to pay for his medical care from a serious car accident, a spokesman said yesterday.

The spokesman for Corzine, a multimillionaire from his days leading Goldman Sachs Group Inc., made the announcement after the governor posed Thursday for photos and told the Associated Press: "I'm the most blessed person who ever lived."

The Democrat's decision to pay for his own health care from the April 12 accident spares taxpayers a hefty tab.

"He's been fortunate in life, and there's no reason to have taxpayers foot the bill," spokesman Anthony Coley said.

Corzine is otherwise covered by the state's medical insurance plan, like all state workers.

"We don't know yet the total cost of his care right now, but we expect it will be hundreds of thousands of dollars," Coley said. "From the Medevac helicopter to the hospital stay to the cheeseburgers to the strawberry milkshakes, the governor intends to pay for all of it himself."

The accident left Corzine with a broken leg and other injuries, including 11 broken ribs and a cracked collarbone and sternum.

Sitting in a chair next to his hospital bed Thursday, he appeared in good spirits as state workers prepared for him to resume his duties from the governor's mansion in Princeton. They were installing fiber-optic cable to allow Corzine to do video conferencing from Princeton, where he will undergo physical therapy, Coley said.

Senate President Richard J. Codey, who has been working as acting governor, met with Corzine yesterday and said he expects him to leave the hospital Tuesday or Wednesday.

No decision has been made on when Corzine will return to work, but Codey said the governor expects to have a better idea within a few days of leaving the hospital.

Corzine's intravenous line has been removed and he is making good progress, Coley said.

"He continues to take antibiotics and pain medication orally and is receiving physical therapy in his room," he said.

Corzine is expected to walk with either a cane or a walker for at least six months.

The 60-year-old governor's SUV was being driven by a state trooper at 91 mph when it was clipped by a truck and lost control on the Garden State Parkway, slamming into a guard rail. Corzine wasn't wearing his seat belt, as required by state law. *