(TRENTON) — Preparing for the launch of the health insurance Marketplace — a central component of federal health reform and the place where residents will purchase health insurance — Democrats today announced the organization of the legislative task force charged with overseeing its implementation and operation.
The “Joint Legislative Task Force on Health Insurance Exchange Implementation” was created by the Legislature in response to Governor Christie’s decision to turn over creation of New Jersey’s health insurance exchange — also known as the Marketplace — to the federal government, despite legislative efforts to create a state-based exchange. The Marketplace, which will provide a one-stop shop for individuals and employers to search health insurance options, apply for and enroll in coverage, will open for enrollment on Oct. 1 with coverage beginning Jan. 1, 2014. The task force will ensure that the Legislature is involved in the process of implementing the exchange and will provide ongoing oversight to make sure it is meeting the needs of New Jersey residents. The task force will also track the millions of federal dollars already provided to the state for its operation.
“The marketplace is a key component of health reform and the mechanism by which hundreds of thousands of people will shop for health coverage in New Jersey,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic), prime sponsor of the measure that created the task force and a member. “Since the Affordable Care Act provides for States to take over management of the marketplace, the Legislature must continue to be informed and involved in the process. This task force will allow the Legislature to track progress of the marketplace and to respond legislatively if necessary.
“Our goal as a state must be to ensure that the 1.3 million uninsured, the underinsured and small businesses seeking affordable options are able to access quality coverage,” Gill added.
“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 and to make sure the health insurance exchange is properly implemented in New Jersey,” said Assemblyman Conaway (D-Burlington), prime sponsor of the legislation creating the task force. “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 monitor the implementation strategy for a state health insurance exchange now, and this task force will be a voice for the people to make sure it’s done right.”
Specifically, the task force will:
- analyze and oversee the operation of a federal health insurance exchange in New Jersey;
- develop recommendations on the scope of the state’s role in health insurance exchange operations to ensure that the state benefits to the maximum extent practicable from the exchange; and
- make recommendations as would best ensure a coordinated effort among state agencies, health care providers, third party providers and the federal government to implement the heath exchange in New Jersey.
As determined by the authorizing legislation, (SCR-144/ACR-184), the task force membership consists of the chairpersons of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, the Senate Commerce Committee, the Assembly Health and Senior Services Committee, and the Assembly Financial Institutions and Insurance Committee. The measure additionally called for two appointments from each of the Senate President, Assembly Speaker, Senate and Assembly Minority Leaders.
The Democratic members of the task force are:
- Senator Nia H. Gill;
- Senator Fred H. Madden;
- Senator Joseph Vitale;
- Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg;
- Assemblyman Herb Conaway;
- Assemblyman Angel Fuentes;
- Assemblyman Gary Schaer; and
- Assemblywoman Valerie Vainieri Huttle