TRENTON – The sponsor of the Health Care Exchange Act reacted strongly this afternoon following the gubernatorial veto of the bill.
“The governor has sent a clear message to the 1.3 million uninsured New Jerseyeans and the many others who are underinsured and struggle to afford their existing insurance. He doesn’t care,” said Assemblyman Herb Conaway, (D-7), Delanco.
“This legislation would have made quality and affordable health care possible for every New Jersey resident. It would have positioned New Jersey to help working people and small businesses receive billions of dollars in available federal tax credits to purchase insurance coverage.”
Christie vetoed the bill, citing several reasons, including the burden that it would have placed on taxpayers, the uncertainty of the national health care overhaul’s fate before the U.S. Supreme Court, the $50,000 stipend Exchange board members would have been paid, and operating a new Medicaid-like program without any assurance of the necessary federal funding that would be required.
Conaway said in a release, however, that Christie ignored the real concerns of the state’s underinsured residents.
“Today, their concerns fell on deaf ears. By vetoing this bill, Gov. Christie has failed New Jersey’s uninsured residents, hurt New Jersey’s chances of fully benefiting from federal health care reform and ignored the need to provide relief to hospitals for uncompensated care.
“I am disappointed that Gov. Christie put national political pressures ahead of the well-being of New Jersey. His actions have once again shown his complete disregard for our most vulnerable populations.”
Jen Kim, advocate with N.J. Public Interest Research Group, which had fought for the bill:
“Today Gov. Christie brought health reform screeching to a halt in New Jersey.
“The Governor’s veto doesn’t undo the need for health reform in New Jersey. The Supreme Court decision won’t change the fact that 1.3 million people are uninsured and thousands more are struggling to keep their families covered.
“Regardless of what happens in the Supreme Court, Gov. Christie should recognize that New Jersey needs better health care and the exchange is a great way to help people.”
Phil Kirschner, president of the N.J. Association of Business and Industry:
“Governor Christie is absolutely right to veto this bill. This gives lawmakers an opportunity to create a health insurance exchange that will be less bureaucratic and provide the best value.”
“This bill would have created an exchange that would have been expensive to run, possibly even taxing insurance plans that aren’t even sold in the exchange to fund its operation,” NJBIA Vice President Christine Stearns said in a release. “And it would have almost certainly limited the choice of plans sold in the exchange.”
“To make things worse, it would have been one of only two exchanges nationwide to pay its governing-board members. The exchange would have paid the board members $50,000 a year each. The only other state paying board members, Oregon, was offering only $30 per work day.”