NJ Politics Digest: In NJ, the Individual Mandate is Restored

President Donald Trump congratulates House Republicans after they passed legislation aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act during an event at the White House on May 4, 2017.

President Donald Trump congratulates House Republicans after they passed legislation aimed at repealing significant portions of the Affordable Care Act during an event at the White House on May 4, 2017. Mark Wilson/Getty Images

Republicans in Congress managed to curtail the individual mandate section of the Affordable Care Act (colloquially known as “Obamacare”), but as of Jan. 1, New Jersey residents will once again be required to have health insurance.

The start of 2019 marked the implementation of the New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act, which establishes penalties for those who do not maintain health insurance coverage.

While critics of the ACA have long railed against the individual mandate, supporters of the plan say it’s necessary in order to keep health insurance affordable for all, as it requires people to acquire health insurance even if they think they don’t need it. The greater the number of people paying into the system, the lower the cost for everyone. It also ensures that, if those people do get sick, others with health insurance don’t have to pay more to subsidize the uninsured’s care in emergency rooms, for example.

The Press of Atlantic City reports that the number of uninsured in New Jersey dropped from 13 percent to eight percent when Medicaid was expanded under the ACA in 2017.

But, the report notes, the number of people enrolling in plans during the past two years’ open enrollment periods has declined, perhaps in part due to the law’s uncertain fate in Republican hands, as well as the Trump Administration’s decision to cut advertising by 90%.

Quote of the Day: “I thought the brought-down premiums would have made a bigger difference than they did,” — Joel Cantor, director of the Rutgers University Center for State Health Policy, on a decline in signups for healthcare in the ACA marketplace in 2018.

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NJ Politics Digest: In NJ, the Individual Mandate is Restored