Two weeks after Hurricane Sandy made landfall in the Garden State, Gov. Chris Christie is facing another kind of sandstorm: how to implement Obamacare in a state where 1.3 million are uninsured.
Christie must decide by this Friday, Nov. 16, whether the state will execute its own health-insurance exchange or allow the federal government to handle the online market for insurance.
Under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, the exchanges help individuals and small-business employees to determine if they are eligible for federal assistance. Coverage starts in January 2014.
“New Jersey has 1.3 million uninsured,” Jeff Brown, health care advocate with New Jersey Citizen Action, said in an interview with the Bergen Record. “The governor’s decision is going to affect hundreds of thousands of people.” Once the type of exchange is decided, he said, “then the real work begins in terms of making sure people get insurance.”
In the first year alone, more than 250,000 New Jersey residents are expected to be eligible to purchase their health care on through the exchange.
Raymond Castro, senior policy analyst for New Jersey Policy Perspectives, believes the Garden State should establish its own exchanges.
“The governor has tried to kick the can down the road on this issue,” Steve Lonegan, head of the state chapter of Americans for Prosperity told the Bergen Record. “But now we’re out of road.”
Christie vetoed a plan earlier this year to establish an exchange, saying he wanted to see how the presidential election turned out, according to The Star-Ledger. And just last week, a spokesman for Christie said the governor’s ultimate decision would come “in due course,” the Star-Ledger reported.
Regardless of the election outcome, some Republican governors are still resisting implementing Obamacare. In Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) is typical of those refusing to cooperate with Obamacare.
"Kansans feel Obamacare is an overreach by Washington and have rejected the state's participation in this federal program," Gov. Brownback said in a statement after last week’s election. "My administration will not partner with the federal government to create a state-federal partnership insurance exchange because we will not benefit from it and implementing it could cost Kansas taxpayers millions of dollars."