The Trump administration yesterday said the entire Affordable Care Act should be struck down. Fortunately, Governor Phil Murphy is taking steps to strengthen it in New Jersey.
Gov. Murphy announced last week that New Jersey will move away from the federal insurance marketplace and transition to a state health insurance exchange in 2021. He positioned this move as a way to protect NJ from ongoing federal efforts to undermine the Affordable Care Act. By reinforcing key principles of the law at the state level, Murphy believes NJ should be able to maintain consumer protections and tackle affordability concerns more effectively. He has started the process of creating the new exchange by sending a letter of intent to CMS.
Murphy has already made several efforts to strengthen its insurance marketplace and reduce premiums for consumers. The state has implemented an individual coverage requirement and established a reinsurance program in 2018.
Washington Post reports that this afternoon, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and House Democratic committee leaders will roll out legislation to improve the marketplaces and roll back harmful policies advanced by the Trump administration. The measure will roll back the administration’s short-term health plans and restore funding to navigators who provide assistance to hard-to-reach groups. It will also expand waivers so that states can get to run their marketplaces in alternative ways – important for NJ.
Trump’s Justice Department has said it wants a federal court to completely repeal Obamacare. It presented its position in a legal filing Monday where an appeal is pending in a case challenging the measure’s constitutionality. A federal judge ruled in December that the law’s individual mandate “can no longer be sustained and further found that the remaining portions of the law are void.”
In the above court case if the judge rules ACA must end, the ruling would be appealed and likely end up in the Supreme Court, so no immediate termination is anticipated. Also Congress seems unlikely to make such huge cuts in Medicare and Medicaid. However, its clear that Trump seeks to inflict as much damage as possible.
The plan to be announced today by Speaker Pelosi is worthwhile, and all or parts of it might be enacted. However, it will likely face strong headwinds in the Senate where Republicans rule.
Creating a state-based exchange will allow Murphy and our lawmakers to continue strengthening our health insurance system.