Trenton – A series of bills that are part of a greater package led by the Senate Commerce Committee Chair Nellie Pou and Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee Chair Joseph Vitale that would put into state law many of the health care reforms from the federal 2010 Affordable Care Act gained the approval of the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee today.
The bills will help to protect New Jersey residents currently benefiting from the Affordable Care Act that was passed by Congress and signed into law by President Barack Obama. The New Jersey bills would codify the federal reforms into state law. They would also authorize the Department of Banking and Insurance to establish, operate, and fund a state-based exchange for Medicaid and other health benefits plans. The package comes in response to New Jersey and 16 other states appealing the decision of a federal judge in Texas who ruled the Affordable Care Act law unconstitutional in December 2018, based on the repeal of the individual mandate.
“Health insurance is not an option in America,” said Senator Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic). “The ACA made significant progress towards health care accessibility and it expanded coverage for thousands of New Jerseyans. We can’t let the people of our state go without insurance now because of the erratic leadership in the white house and on Capitol Hill. Everyone deserves the right to affordable healthcare and codifying this federal law into state law will help give New Jerseyans more options and greater coverage for years to come, regardless of who is in charge of the oval office.”
“With the federal government doing everything it can to eliminate the progress made by the Affordable Care Act, I’m glad the state legislature is standing up for the people who were able to get life-saving coverage through these policies,” said Senator Vitale (D-Middlesex). “We cannot leave the health and safety of our citizens up to the whims of the White House. This legislation is a commitment to our residents and an assurance that our state will do everything we can to make sure New Jerseyans are healthy, safe and able to afford health care.”
- S.562 – Sponsored by Senator Gill and Senator Singleton, the bill would preserve the requirement that health insurance plans cover essential health benefits. The bill was released from SBA committee by a vote of 8-4.
- S.626 – Sponsored by Senator Vitale and Senator Diegnan, the bill would clarify prohibition on preexisting condition exclusions in health insurance policies. The bill was released from SBA committee by a vote of 12-0.
- S.3802 – Sponsored by Senator Pou and Senator Weinberg, the bill would require the continuation of health benefits dependent coverage until the child is 26 years old. The bill was released from SBA committee by a vote of 12-0.
- S.3803 – Sponsored by Senator Pou and Senator Ruiz, the bill would require health benefits coverage for certain preventive services. The bill was released from SBA committee by a vote of 12-0.
- S.3808 – Sponsored by Senator Singleton and Senator Diegnan, the bill would repeal statute authorizing offering of “Basic and Essential” health benefits plans under individual health benefits and small employer health benefits plans and other statutes concerning basic health plans; makes conforming amendments The bill was released from SBA committee by a vote of 8-4.
- S.3809 – Sponsored by Senator Pou and Senator Lagana, the bill would expand rate review processes in DOBI for certain individual and small employer health benefits plan. The bill was released from SBA committee by a vote of 8-4.
- S.3812 – Sponsored by Senator Cryan and Senator Diegnan, the bill would apply a 85 percent loss ratio requirement to large group health insurance plans. The bill was released from SBA committee by a vote of 12-0.
In December 2019, an Appellate Court upheld the lower court’s ruling that the individual mandate for coverage was unconstitutional now that Congress has eliminated the tax penalty that was intended to enforce it. The Appellate Court additionally sent the case back to the lower court to decide how much of the rest of the law can stand in light of that ruling, ordering the lower court to “conduct a more searching inquiry into which provisions of the ACA Congress intended to be inseverable from the individual mandate.”