Bill Package to Protect Affordable Health Care in New Jersey Heads to Governor

Bills sponsored by Mckeon, Murphy & Lampitt

(TRENTON) – A legislative package sponsored by Assembly Members John McKeon, Carol Murphy and Pamela Lampitt to protect New Jersey from President Trump’s effort to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and preserve the health care benefits being provided by the law to the state’s residents received final legislative approval Thursday and now heads to the governor’s desk.

The 2-bill package would maintain the viability of the individual mandate and establish a reinsurance fund to help stabilize the insurance market.

The ACA, has expanded health insurance coverage to more than 800,000 New Jersey residents, including some 340,000 who purchased policies through the individual market.

“President Trump’s efforts to destabilize the health insurance market will only lead to higher costs for New Jersey residents unless we take common sense action to preserve the benefits the Affordable Care Act has been providing to our residents,” said McKeon (D-Essex/Morris). “We cannot stand idle as our residents are put at risk. We fought long and hard to get more people insured in New Jersey because it’s both fiscally and socially responsible. We will continue that fight because it’s the right thing to do.”

One bill (A-3380) entitled the ‘New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act,’ would reestablish the recently repealed “shared responsibility tax” that is at the core of the mandate. The legislation would require every New Jersey resident to obtain health insurance coverage or pay a fee, essentially adopting the rules of the ACA.

Under the individual mandate, most Americans were required to purchase health coverage, but starting Jan. 1, 2019, there is no fee associated with the individual mandate.

The fee imposed by the bill would be assessed and collected in the same manner as the income tax, with the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance establishing a program for determining whether to grant exemptions for “religious conscience or hardship.

The other measure (A-3379) would allow for a reinsurance program to bring more stability to an insurance market that has been destabilized by the actions and inactions of the Trump Administration. The legislation, designated as the ‘New Jersey Health Insurance Premium Security Act,’ would direct the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance to apply for a federal waiver of provisions of the ACA to support a reinsurance program to control premiums in the New Jersey.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans rely on the ACA to get the comprehensive medical coverage they need and deserve,” said Murphy (D-Burlington). “These measures will ensure that the necessary infrastructure remains in place for the ACA to thrive.”

The bill would establish a board that would work with the state insurance commissioner to design the plan. The board would also come up with a fee structure to assess insurance carriers to fund the program and the money would be held in a newly created fund under the Treasury Department.

“The Republican effort to threaten health care for hard working families is unconscionable,” said Lampitt (D-Camden/Burlington). “We will take whatever efforts are necessary to ensure our citizens get the coverage they deserve.”

The bill (A-3379) was approved 46-22 by the Assembly, and 22-14 by the Senate, and the bill (A-3380) was approved 50-23 by the Assembly and 22-13 by the Senate.

The bills were initially advanced through the Assembly Appropriations Committee.