Murphy signs legislation giving N.J. state-based health exchange

Gov. Phil Murphy has signed legislation that would set up a state-based health care exchange for 2021.

The bill was signed Friday, just a day after it cleared the Legislature, including amendments for a Medicaid eligibility platform added by Senate President Steve Sweeney (D-West Deptford).

Murphy said the new law will protect New Jersey’s health insurance market in the event of a repeal at the federal level.

“New Jersey has advanced strong policies to protect access to health care for our residents, access which I believe is a human right,” he said.

“With this law, we take another step in securing the access families need to gaining more affordable health coverage. Creating our own exchange will allow us to take actions that protect residents in our state, and will ensure we are in the best position in New Jersey to defend against the (President Donald) Trump administration’s assault on the Affordable Care Act.

“I want to thank the many tireless advocates that helped get this legislation over the finish line. This bill makes it so that New Jersey can continue its work to ensure that all residents have access to the coverage and carethey deserve.”

The state exchange will be funded by diverting a fee — 3.5% of premiums — that insurers pay from the federal government to the state.

Lawmakers have said that, with the decreased open enrollment window and fewer navigators, states are not getting a fair return on investment. The state exchange provides an opportunity to gain better control over open enrollment and stabilize the insurance market.

The exchange will be administered by the Department of Banking & Insurance.

“This is a milestone for our state, and I am proud to be part of an administration that is taking on the issues that are so important to the lives of our residents,” said DOBI Commissioner Marlene Caride.

“With the creation of a state exchange, New Jersey is cementing itself as a national leader in keeping health coverage affordable,” said Ray Castro, senior policy analyst at New Jersey Policy Perspective. “A state exchange will allow New Jersey to cover more residents, reduce premiums and qualify for more federal funds. This is a huge victory for the thousands of uninsured New Jerseyans and those who are struggling to afford their health insurance. States across the country should look to New Jersey as an example of how to ensure quality, affordable health coverage, regardless of what the Trump administration does to undermine the Affordable Care Act.”

Murphy had been expected to sign the bill, which he called for in March.

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