Governor Christie’s veto of the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act is deeply disappointing. Failing to establish a New Jersey-based insurance exchange – a common sense, market- based approach to the health care crisis here in New Jersey -- leaves the more than 200,000 50-64 year old New Jerseyans who are uninsured, or with inadequate coverage, without this important opportunity to improve the health care coverage status for themselves and their families.
A public opinion survey of voters age 18-64, commissioned by AARP in March of 2012, found that 90 percent of respondents agree that the Governor should work to ensure all New Jersey residents have access to health care coverage. This view was shared by those young and old and across party affiliations. An insurance exchange encourages the personal responsibility and control over one’s own health care values and policies we would have thought this Governor would support.
A2171, if enacted, would have improved health care accessibility, value, choice, and quality for consumers and small business owners who are in the market for affordable health insurance options. For consumers who are satisfied with their current health insurance, they would keep it and nothing would change. Today’s veto deprives New Jerseyans who are struggling under the weight of unaffordable health care coverage the chance to pool their purchasing power, in the same way large corporations do now for the benefit of their employees, and to make their lives better.
At the 2010 AARP Day at the Capitol event, Governor Christie proclaimed that he wants “everyone to have health insurance.” Enacting A2171 and establishing this insurance exchange was an opportunity for the Governor to make that vision a reality and to continue New Jersey’s proud history of innovation in the health system. Unfortunately, the Governor chose not to do so.
A health insurance exchange is a marketplace where individuals without health insurance or with insufficient or costly insurance can shop for health insurance and access public programs and subsidies for which they are eligible. Small businesses can also purchase health insurance for their employees through the exchange. Under the Affordable Care Act (ACA), states can choose to run their own health insurance exchange or the exchange will be developed by the federal government.
Today’s veto makes it much more likely the federal government will operate New Jersey’s exchange.
Jeff Abramo, Associate State Director for Communications
Ev Liebman, Associate State Director for Advocacy