Assemblyman Herb Conaway, M.D. – the lead Assembly sponsor of legislation to create a New Jersey health benefits exchange program to provide access to affordable, quality health insurance – issued the following statement concerning Gov. Christie’s veto today of the bill (S-2135/A-3186):
“This New Jersey-specific legislation would have coupled strong consumer protections and an open, online marketplace to create a vibrant, competitive exchange to ensure that our state’s uninsured and underinsured families receive the highest quality care for the lowest price. It would have also positioned New Jersey residents and small businesses to receive billions in federal tax credits to purchase insurance.
“But, for the second time this year, the Governor has stood in the way of that.
“Health insurance should not be a luxury. Middle class families and small business owners should not have to choose between their health and paying bills.
“The fact of the matter is that the Affordable Care Act is here to stay. Congress enacted it, the President signed it, the Supreme Court upheld it, and the New Jersey legislature has tried to implement one of its most important provisions. But the Governor has punted, making it likely that federal officials will be the ones making key decisions on how New Jersey’s health exchange will function.
“While I look forward to seeing a competitive, vibrant, fully functioning health exchange operate in New Jersey by 2014, I am disappointed that it will not be the version designed and approved by the elected representatives of the people of New Jersey,” said Conaway (D-Burlington).