N.J. business owners urge Christie to set up health insurance exchange

    Under the Affordable Care Act, by 2014 all states must provide residents with a marketplace to purchase private health insurance — an exchange. If the states don’t want to set one up, then the feds will step in and do it for them. States have until mid-November to decide.

    Back in the spring, Democrats in the New Jersey Legislature passed a bill creating an exchange. Gov. Chris Christie vetoed it to see if the Supreme Court would strike the provision down. That, of course, didn’t happen.

    Now some small-business owners are making one more effort to get Christie on board.

    “If New Jersey fashions the parameters for the exchange, it’s better, because the state knows the needs of its constituents,” said Odette Cohen, a physician who runs a pediatrics practice in Willingboro. She joined other small-business owners in Trenton Wednesday as part of the New Jersey Main Street Alliance (a subsidiary of the activist group New Jersey Citizen Action).

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    Cohen also wants a state-run system because she also doesn’t “trust the federal government to have enough time to do what needs to be done to make the exchange an efficient exchange for small business and individuals.”

    Eleven states have signed legislation creating state-run marketplaces.

    Neither Pennsylvania nor Delaware have yet taken official action. Pennsylvania seems poised to allow the feds to come in, Delaware to run at least most of it on its own.

    Some Democratic insiders suspect Republican leaders are hoping a Mitt Romney victory in November will render the point moot, since he has promised to repeal the federal health law.

    Christie, who has acknowledged that he plans to wait until after the election to make any decisions on the matter, says he will comply with the law if it remains in effect.

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