(TRENTON) – A concurrent resolution sponsored by Assembly Democrat Herb Conaway, Jr. M.D., Celeste M. Riley and Upendra J. Chivukula to help smooth the process of establishing a state health insurance exchange for consumers and businesses under the landmark federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act was approved 46-30-2 today by the full Assembly.
The measure (ACR-184) would establish the Joint Legislative Task Force on Health Insurance Exchange Implementation to oversee and develop recommendations for the implementation of a health insurance exchange in New Jersey in accordance with the federal act.
The sponsors noted that the insurance exchange is designed to promote choice and value by allowing an individual or small business to compare the costs and benefits of various health plans and options, while being part of a large insurance pool, which helps lower rates.
“Given the evolving nature of the health insurance market and the complexities of the federal law and existing state regulations, this task force is necessary to oversee and develop recommendations, to properly implement the health insurance exchange in New Jersey,” said Conaway (D-Burlington). “Having waited this long for the governor to decide on a course of action for our health exchange, it’s crucial that we get a hold on things now to make sure the exchange is functioning and effective.”
“It is important for New Jersey to put in place a process for coordinating the health insurance Exchange,” said Chivukula (D-Middlesex, Somerset). “A legislative task force must certainly be a part of that process in order to ensure proper implementation of the new federal act.”
“The cost of health insurance has quickly become unaffordable for many residents and small businesses,” said Riley (D- Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem). “By comparing health plans, costs and benefits, residents will be able to find a plan that fits their budget and sustain healthcare for their families and employees. We need to begin developing an implementation strategy for the state health insurance exchange now. This should be a priority for the governor.”
Pursuant to the resolution’s provisions, the 12-member task force would be charged with:
(1) Analyzing and overseeing the operation of a federal health exchange in New Jersey;
(2) Developing recommendations on whether the state should play a more active role in the operation of the health insurance exchange to ensure that the state benefits to the maximum extent practicable; and
(3) Making recommendations that will best ensure a coordinated effort among the relevant state agencies, health care providers, third party payers, and the federal government to implement the health insurance exchange in New Jersey.
The task force would be required to provide the Senate President and the Assembly Speaker with quarterly updates of its activities, findings, conclusions, and recommendations for legislation or administrative action.
In addition, the task force is required to issue annual reports of its activities, findings, conclusions, and recommendations for legislation or administrative action, including any recommendations to expand the role of the state in implementing the health insurance exchange in New Jersey.
The measure now heads to the Governor’s Desk for further consideration.