Christie considers health benefit exchange for New Jersey

Gov. Chris Christie has until Thursday to decide whether to give his approval to a measure that would create a health benefit exchange in New Jersey.

A coalition of small-business owners and consumer advocates is urging the governor to sign the bill.

Samia Bahsoun owns S2 Associates International, a high-tech communications firm in Holmdel. She says the health benefit exchange would make insurance more affordable and help small companies attract top talent.

“Our health-care costs have been increasing 30 percent year after year,” she said. “And with the increasing costs of health care, we have been unable to compete with larger corporations that are offering those benefits to those employees.”

Supporters say the exchange will save the state money because it would enable more people to get insurance coverage and reduce the burden on hospitals to provide charity care.

Teresa Politano, a part-time lecturer at Rutgers University, says the exchange would make insurance coverage affordable for people like her.

“They want health insurance,” she said. “They’re willing to share the burden of its cost, but under the current system these people, our best and brightest, the critical thinkers, are just left vulnerable.”

More than a million New Jersey residents are now uninsured.

It’s unclear whether Governor Christie might conditionally veto the bill while awaiting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on President Barack Obama’s health-care law.

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