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Gill Measure To Ensure Oversight Of Health Exchange Clears Commerce Committee

Measure Would Create Joint Legislative Task Force

TRENTON – Legislation sponsored by Senate Commerce Chairwoman Nia H. Gill to ensure oversight of the implementation and operation of a federal health exchange in New Jersey was approved today by the committee. Senator Gill introduced the bill in response to Governor Christie’s recent decision to turn over creation of New Jersey’s health exchange to the federal government.

“The governor’s decision to turn over creation of New Jersey’s health exchange to the federal government does not mean that the state also cedes responsibility for whether or not it is successful. It is vital that we remain involved in the process to ensure the health exchange that is created in our state meets the unique needs of our residents and that our state is benefiting to the maximum extent possible under the federal law,” said Senator Gill (D-Essex/Passaic). “This task force will provide a method of oversight that will allow the Legislature to track progress of the exchange and to respond legislatively if necessary.”

Senator Gill was the sponsor of two bills that laid out the framework for creating a state-based health insurance exchange, both of which were vetoed by the governor. Last month, the governor announced that he has opted for a federally-administered exchange.

The measure (SCR-144) would create a task force charged with overseeing and developing recommendations for the implementation of a health exchange in accordance with the federal Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The “Joint Legislative Task Force on Health Insurance Exchange Implementation” would also develop recommendations on the scope of the state’s role in health insurance exchange operations to ensure that the state benefits to the maximum extent practicable from the exchange. In addition, the panel would make recommendations as would best ensure a coordinated effort among state agencies, health care providers, third party providers and the federal government to implement the heath exchange in New Jersey.

“The Affordable Care Act allows states that have opted for a federal exchange to assume an increased role in the process in the future, including the ability to take over entirely its operations,” said Senator Gill. “Given this option and the prospect for future changes in state policy with regard to our role in the exchange, it is critical that we ensure adequate oversight and involvement by the Legislative Branch of government.”

The task force would be comprised of 12 members, with appointments made by the Senate President, the Speaker, the Senate and Assembly minority leaders as well as the chairs of the committees overseeing health and insurance issues in each house. The task force would be required to provide the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the General Assembly with quarterly updates of its activities, findings, conclusions, and recommendations for legislation or administrative action. In addition, the task force would be required to issue annual reports of its activities, findings, conclusions, and recommendations for legislation or administrative action, including any recommendations to expand the role of the State in implementing the health insurance exchange in New Jersey, to the Governor, the President of the Senate, the Speaker of the General Assembly, and the Minority Leaders of the Senate and General Assembly with the first annual report being issued one year after the date of enactment of the resolution.

The committee approved the bill by a vote of 4-2. It now heads to the full Senate for consideration.

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