TRENTON – Senator Nia H. Gill (D-Essex) today released the following statement on the governor’s veto of the New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act, legislation (S-1319) the senator sponsored to create a statewide health insurance exchange:
“The fact that the federal health reform law is being challenged by the right wing of the Republican Party does not eliminate New Jersey’s obligation to create a health benefit exchange, nor does it eliminate the needs of our 1.3 million uninsured residents. The state is facing a January 1st deadline to demonstrate that it has made progress in creating an exchange, an extremely detailed and work-intensive process. Today’s veto of comprehensive legislation only means that we’ll be left scrambling to implement a responsible plan.
“The Governor’s politically motivated veto once again demonstrates that he is out of touch with New Jersey’s small businesses and working families. By standing with the Republican Party in the interest of preserving his conservative political base, the Governor is playing politics with health care and the more than a million people in New Jersey who are in need of coverage.
“This legislation would have created a conflict-free exchange board with the ability to leverage high-quality, affordable health coverage for the 1.3 million uninsured and for those who are underinsured.
“Further, the intent of our exchange bill was to set up a structure that provided for strong consumer protections. That the Governor’s plan is to now put insurers on the very board charged with regulating the insurance industry is unsettling, as it could create a way for insurers to revert to the abuses that made federal health reform necessary in the first place.”