Christie blocks plan for N.J. health exchange

    Gov. Chris Christie has vetoed legislation that would have established a state-run health insurance exchange where uninsured residents can shop for health care coverage.

    In his veto message, Christie said it would be fiscally irresponsible to commit to a state exchange without information from the federal government on the best way to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

    Assemblyman Herb Conaway, one of the primary sponsors of the state exchange bill, says despite the governor’s veto, the state will have an exchange. In the absence of a state-run exchange, the federal government will establish the marketplace.

    “The question for me is whether or not the exchange will be one that will run in concert with the market conditions here, with the needs here of New Jersey,” he said Thursday. “Perhaps we will see a situation where the people of our state are shortchanged.”

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    Jeff Brown with New Jersey Citizen Action says Christie’s reluctance doesn’t make sense in light of New Jersey’s place in the vanguard of health reform.

    “Some of the things in the Affordable Care Act are modeled on reforms that happened in New Jersey as far back as the ’90s,” Brown said. “By not moving forward and controlling our own destiny, we’re really ceding that leadership role and leaving it up to the federal government as to how our exchange is run.”

    Brown says a state exchange would have given New Jersey greater control in expanding access to affordable private insurance to more than 400,000 residents.

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