Medicaid health insurance bill vetoed

TRENTON – Gov. Chris Christie on Friday vetoed a bill that would have provided Medicaid health insurance to hundreds of thousands of state residents who are currently ineligible.

Specifically, the bill S2644/A4233, would have increased the Medicaid income eligibility limit to 133 percent of the federal poverty level for all non-senior citizen adults and legal residents starting Jan. 1, 2014.

In 2013 dollars, 133 percent of the FPL is $15,282 for a single person, $20,628 for a family of two, and $31,322 for a family of four.

A month ago, Raymond Castro of the New Jersey Policy Perspective said the current limits on income eligibility are far too restrictive.

“The only way that they can become eligible for Medicaid now is if they apply and are approved for General Assistance which has a monthly income eligibility limit of $140 for an employable individual as well as many other eligibility requirements that sharply limit participation in the program,” he said in a statement last month. “Because of this major restriction, it is estimated that about 307,000 adults will be eligible for the Medicaid expansion.”

While not saying specifically why he vetoed this particular bill, Christie said in a statement Friday that the bills he did veto “would potentially add hundreds of millions of dollars to state and local budgets frustrating New Jersey’s already over-burdened taxpayers and undermining the budget I signed today.”

He added that those spending items should have been part of budget negotiations.

Christie said in his budget address that he intended to expand Medicaid, while saying he wasn’t a fan of the Affordable Care Act, of which Medicaid expansion is one of the main drivers.

Experts aid the governor’s veto of the bill gives more flexibility. Christie prefers doing the expansion via budget language rather than by statute.

The Senate bill was sponsored by Sen. Nia Gill (D-35) of Montclair, and Sen. Joe Vitale (D-19) of Woodbridge.

Medicaid health insurance bill vetoed