There are about 1.1 million New Jersey residents without health insurance, according to the 2011 American Community Survey — about 14 percent of the state population. As implementation of the federal 2010 Affordable Care Act nears in 2014, Gov. Chris Christie faces a Nov. 16 deadline to choose whether to approve a state database of health care providers or allow the federal government to implement one. The state Legislature passed the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act on Thursday, which would create the database.
NJPP senior policy analyst Raymond Castro tells the Press that creating the exchange now would ensure more people are enrolled when the program starts, and warns that if the state does not move forward soon with a comprehensive marketing plan to get residents enrolled, as many as 150,000 eligible people could still be without health insurance even as the program is implemented.
He also estimates the state would see about $470 million lost in federal funding for Medicaid and exchange subsidies.
Castro says the state can’t set policy for the program until the decision on the database is made. He also says the state should control the program to obtain the most efficient results.
“It’s hard to imagine someone from Washington coming into New Jersey and knowing which organizations to partner with,” he says.
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