N.J. Health Benefit Exchange Act released from Senate Commerce Committee

TRENTON – Following approximately three and a half hours of testimony in the Senate Commerce Committee, S1319, known as the “New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act,” was released by a 4-2 vote along party lines on Monday afternoon.

The bill would create a statewide health insurance exchange pursuant to the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. Nia Gill, (D-34), of Montclair, and Sen. Joseph Vitale, (D-19), of Woodbridge.

The exchange would be governed by a board of directors consisting of eight members. The commissioners of banking and insurance and human services would serve as nonvoting members.

The governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, would appoint five of the members. The members on the board would serve on a part-time basis for an annual salary of $50,000.

The board would create a Basic Health Plan, consistent with the provisions of the federal act. The board will also establish the State Business Health Options Program to assist participating employers in facilitating the enrollment of their employees in qualified plans.

Eligible employers would include as of January 2014 employers with at least two but no more than 50 employees; beginning January 2016, those with from 51 to 100 employees, and, beginning January 2017, those with more than 100 employees.

The bill would also establish the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Trust Fund in the Department of Treasury as a “non-lapsing revolving fund.”

The hearing saw testimony from many interested medical, insurance, and state policy professionals, including representatives from the American Cancer Society, New Jersey Policy Perspective, and the New Jersey Association of Health Plans.

N.J. Health Benefit Exchange Act released from Senate Commerce Committee