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Gill Introduces ‘New Jersey Public Option Health Care Act’

Senator Nia Gill at the first meeting of the Senate Task Force on Health Insurance Exchange Implementation

Second Bill Requires Coverage of Essential Health Services

TRENTON – Senator Nia H. Gill has introduced two bills aimed at protecting the health care of New Jersey residents, as Republicans in Congress advance a plan to dismantle safeguards afforded to millions of Americans under the Affordable Care Act.

 “Republicans are pushing a ‘repeal and replace’ plan strictly to give the president a political victory, and in the process they’re killing the hard-fought protections that all people deserve. Our first step must be to protect essential health services like emergency and newborn care, and prescription medications, but we have to do more,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex, Passaic). “Health care is a human right and we must guarantee that this right is protected under the Trump Administration. We have to move toward a universal health care system that will protect all residents over the long term, and this is a step in that direction. A public option will provide an opportunity for more people to get covered while allowing us to set guidelines for coverage under a state-operated program.”

The first bill would require health insurers to continue providing coverage for 10 essential health services as required under the ACA, including emergency services, maternity and newborn care, prescription drugs and hospitalization. An amendment sponsored by Rep. Tom MacArthur and included in Congressional Republicans’ ‘repeal and replace’ plan passed last week by the House, allows states to seek a waiver from the ACA’s requirement.

The second bill, the “New Jersey Public Option Health Care Act,” would build upon the success of Medicare and Medicaid to create a low-cost, state-run, publicly-funded health plan. The legislation (S3138) would not replace the traditional health insurance structure, opting rather to work within the existing system to create an affordable alternative. The program would be established and implemented by the Commissioners of Health and Banking and Insurance, and all New Jersey residents would be able to apply and qualify for affordable health coverage. The health insurance coverage offered by the program would compete in the market with insurance offered by private health insurers.

“Hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans who gained coverage under the ACA are at risk of losing it under the Congressional Republicans’ plan, and more could be forced to go uninsured with the repeal of important patient protections and drastic changes to subsidies being advanced in Washington,” said Senator Gill. “A public option would allow residents to apply for and obtain affordable, comprehensive coverage that provides them access to quality health care.”