With constitutional question settled, divining what’s next for Affordable Care

    Health policy wonks and legal soothsayers continue to sift through the implications of the Supreme Court decision to uphold the federal health law.

    Essentially, the justices said the government can’t make you buy health insurance but, if you opt out, expect to take a hit on your tax bill. But experts say that, for some people, the penalty will be less than the cost of buying health insurance.

    Ted Ruger, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, says the law may not result in as many people signing up for an insurance plan as proponents would like.

    “However, let’s keep in mind that people who purchase insurance are receiving something, they are receiving a product,” Ruger said. “So it may be that even a little nudge is enough.”

    The Jersey Forecast

    A senior policy analyst with New Jersey Policy Perspective says it’s time for Gov. Chris Christie and the Legislature to come together and speed up the process of implementing the health law. Only four or five smaller disputes remain in the push to establish a state health exchange marketplace, says Ray Castro.

    “There was an issue in terms of who could be on the board,” he said. “The governor’s position was that he wanted all stakeholders, including insurers, and that anyone who has a conflict of interest should not be on the board.”

    Christie himself had a different point of view. 

    On New Jersey 101.5 FM Thursday yesterday he said  he was in no hurry to enact a New Jersey law to comply with the federal health insurance overhaul.

    He said a Mitt Romney victory would likely mean an end to President Barack Obama’s program.

    New Jersey Democratic lawmakers said Thursday that the state should act now to set up a health insurance exchange as called for in the law.

    The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the law, which requires individuals to have health insurance, is legal.

    800,000 may bet coverage in N.J.

    Castro’s group estimates that 800,000 New Jersey residents will gain insurance through the health law –some through the Medicaid expansion, and others through federal subsidies and more affordable coverage options.

    The president of Independence Blue Cross, the largest insurance company in the region, says now that the big constitutional questions largely have been answered, it’s time to focus on and fine-tune the nitty-gritty details of the law.

    And some people will pay more for their health insurance, Dan Hilferty said.

    “There’s a requirement about the most expensive plan can be only three times as expensive as the least expensive plan. Therefore, in order to make the program work, somebody on the lower level, mostly the younger, more healthy individuals, will have to pay more for their policies,” he said.

    Health law proponents have a different prediction. Some said the law will improve the delivery of care and that will help to slow the rising cost of health insurance premiums.

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