Wednesday, May 30, 2018

NJ for Health Care Coalition urges Gov. Murphy: Protect our care. Sign these bills

Update: Murphy signed both bills today!  The Star-Ledger' Susan Livio cites the Coalition letter linked to below.
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New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy has been notably quiet about two ACA-defense bills awaiting his signature -- one creating a state individual mandate, the other directing the Dept. of Banking and Insurance to seek federal funding for a reinsurance program for the individual market.

The bills passed both houses of the legislature on April 12; the Governor has until June 7 to act. His hesitation, if there's more to it than due diligence, may stem from fiscal worries about the reinsurance program, as I've noted before.

Today the NJ Coalition for Health Care, an umbrella group of advocacy groups, trade groups, and unions led by New Jersey Citizen Action, sent a letter to Governor Murphy urging him to sign the bills. 17 organizations signed, including BlueWaveNJ, a group I volunteer for. The text is available here.


The letter argues that the need is dire (as premiums are sky-high and posed for more double-digit increases); the fiscal case sound (the federal government and mandate revenue will cover up most of the tab, and an assessment on insurers can be added if needed); the likely good effects manifest (reducing premiums by 20-30% over nonaction); and the obligation sharp (if you're going to mandate insurance coverage, you must make insurance affordable. A sampling re the last point:
When coverage in the individual market becomes unaffordable, people seek alternatives, even if these alternatives limit access to comprehensive care. New Jersey understandably shuts out junk plans promoted by the Trump administration -- banning short-term policies and tightly regulating association health plans. The mandate bill includes an extra defense against ongoing federal efforts to enable association health plans to bypass state regulation. That's good policy -- but it creates an obligation to foster a market that's affordable to the unsubsidized and offers robust choices to all. An individual mandate paired with reinsurance effectively furthers those goals.

These bills would not only benefit New Jersey, but would become be a national model for other states to follow to protect consumers and help make insurance more affordable. We urge you to act to preserve the coverage gains we’ve made under the ACA and to make comprehensive health insurance affordable for more New Jerseyans by signing these bills.  

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