Governor Signs Vitale-Singleton Bills To Protect the Benefits of Federal Health Care Law In NJ
TRENTON – The Governor today signed two bills authored by Senator Joe Vitale and Senator Troy Singleton that will help preserve the health care benefits of the Affordable Care Act by maintaining the viability of the individual mandate and establishing a reinsurance fund to help stabilize the insurance market.
“Protecting the viability of the individual mandate is needed to maintain a foundation for the insurance market and to allow the success of the ACA to continue,” said Senator Vitale, the chairman of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “New Jersey has benefited from the health care law and we want to see that those benefits continue. It has made health care more affordable and more accessible, especially for those in need.”
In New Jersey, the ACA enabled more than 800,000 additional residents to obtain health insurance, including 500,000 who qualified for expanded Medicaid coverage and 300,000 who purchased plans through the individual insurance market. Uninsured rates dropped from 13.2 percent before the law took full effect in 2014 to 8.7 percent, the lowest in three decades.
“The federal tax law recently adopted by President Trump included the upcoming repeal of the individual mandate,” said Senator Singleton. “The consequences of that decision will usher in an era of higher health insurance costs for everyone and lower health coverage rates. We want to protect New Jersey from the negative impact.”
The law maintaining the mandate, S-1877/A-3380, entitled the “New Jersey Health Insurance Market Preservation Act,” would continue the requirement that every New Jersey resident obtain health insurance coverage, essentially adopting the rules of the ACA.
The companion law, S-1878, will allow for a reinsurance program to bring more stability to an insurance market that has been destabilized by the actions and inactions of the Trump Administration. The law, entitled the “New Jersey Health Insurance Premium Security Act,” directs the Commissioner of Banking and Insurance to apply for a federal waiver of provisions of the ACA to support a reinsurance program to control premiums in New Jersey. It would establish a board that would work with the state insurance commissioner to design the plan.
“The ACA’s ‘Section 1332 waivers’ offer a promising avenue for states to create reinsurance funds to bring more stability and certainty to a marketplace that has been undermined by the Trump Administration, driving up consumer costs,” said Senator Vitale. “We seized the opportunity to take the actions available to hold down expenses for services that improve health care middle class families and others.”
Senator Vitale and Senator Singleton said it is important that the bills were enacted in a timely way in order to comply with federal requirements.