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By Jon Whiten | December 6th, 2012 - 4:13pm
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NEW JERSEY POLICY PERSPECTIVE SENIOR POLICY ANALYST RAYMOND CASTRO ISSUED THE FOLLOWING STATEMENT ON GOV. CHRISTIE'S VETO OF S2135:

In another setback for a half million low and moderate income New Jerseyans without health insurance, Gov. Christie has again vetoed a bill creating a New Jersey health insurance exchange with strong consumer protections.

The governor’s veto is the latest in a long line of delays – with ever-changing reasons. The first exchange bill was vetoed so the governor could wait for the US Supreme Court decision; after the court upheld the Affordable Care Act, the governor said he wanted to wait to see if a Romney presidency would successfully dismantle the law. Now the governor says the state has not received enough information from the federal government.

Meanwhile, the clock is ticking. Unless action is taken soon, New Jersey may not be ready to start accepting applications for comprehensive, quality health coverage 10 months from now on October 1, 2013. The governor still has a little time to establish a consumer-friendly exchange that represents New Jerseyans, since the Obama administration extended the deadline for states to decide to establish a state-based exchange until December 14, 2012.

The governor should work with the legislature to craft a new bill by that date – the 8-day countdown begins now.

One source of compromise could be that some of the bill’s provisions not take effect until the second year. Alternatively, if the governor feels that New Jersey is not ready to assume all the responsibilities of running an exchange, he can establish a state-federal partnership, which can also include key consumer protections. The governor has until February 15, 2013 to make that decision.

If the governor does not make a decision, the federal government will step in and implement its own exchange – one that will not include consumer protections, at least in the first year.

At this point, it is most important that the governor shares his plan for the exchange for public review and that decisions be made as soon as possible. The legislature has been completely transparent with the public; the executive branch has not. New Jerseyans have a right to know the policies that will affect their health care.

The governor’s office has been studying this issue for two years with federal planning dollars. The state should be reaching out and educating the public about the new opportunities for affordable health coverage by now – but it hasn’t even decided who will run the exchange. Further delay will mean many will not know about the exchange, and fewer uninsured New Jersyans will obtain health coverage. We can’t afford for that to happen.

Contact Info: 

whiten (at) njpp.org
njpp.org

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Quote of the Day

quote of the day

"Gov. Chris Christie says he won’t campaign for the Republican gubernatorial candidate in New York because the cause is hopeless: Gov. Andrew Cuomo is ahead by more than 30 points. But he will campaign in New Hampshire, over and over, where the Republican is also trailing by more than 30 points. What’s the reason? It may be that New Hampshire holds the nation’s first presidential primary. It may be that he doesn’t want to mess with Cuomo, who knows where the skeletons are buried at the Port Authority. But one thing is certain: Gov. Straight Talk is spinning again. And it seems to be habit-forming." - columnist Tom Moran

- Star-Ledger

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