Senate Democratic Leaders Call on Governor To Fight Trump Effort to Dismantle ACA

Sweeney, Weinberg, Sarlo, Vitale & Pou Warn Repeal Will Devastate Healthcare & State Budget

Trenton – Warning of the severe consequences a repeal of the landmark national health care program would have on New Jersey, Senate Democratic leaders today called on Governor Christie to fight an effort by President Trump and the Republican Congress to dismantle the Affordable Care Act and the expansion of Medicaid.

The call comes as Governor Christie prepares to address a joint session of the Legislature Tuesday to deliver the FY18 State Budget Address, the same day President Trump will address Congress. Repeal of the ACA would have a devastating impact on healthcare for 1.1 million residents, according to a recent report, and mean the loss of $4.2 billion in federal funding for New Jersey, $3 billion of which is provided as matching funds for the Medicaid expansion.

“Dismantling the Affordable Care Act would be disastrous for New Jersey,” said Senate President Steve Sweeney. “The administration has an obligation to fight the repeal of the ACA and the Medicaid expansion that it implemented, programs that together are providing an estimated 800,000 residents with insurance coverage and billions of dollars to the state. We need to hear the administration take a stand against Donald Trump and Republicans in Congress on behalf of our residents.”

“We cannot allow residents to lose health coverage or the protections they were granted under the landmark health reform law. As the President prepares to deliver a speech to the nation to peddle an agenda that would devastate our state, the governor must decide who he is going to stand with – Trump or New Jersey residents,” said Senate Majority Leader Loretta Weinberg (D-Bergen). “We are speaking out, as lawmakers are all across the country, to oppose policies that hurt working people and the most vulnerable. For so many, dismantling the heath care law literally is an issue of life or death.”

The ACA is now providing health coverage to more than 800,000 New Jerseyans who were previously uninsured. The health care law provides Medicaid coverage to individuals who had no realistic means of paying for health insurance. Approximately 550,000 residents were covered under the Medicaid expansion and more than 250,000 obtained coverage on the Marketplace.

The rollback of the Medicaid expansion could cause New Jersey to lose $3 billion in federal aid. The state could be forced to spend $1 billion annually in higher Medicaid expenses. And, because the ACA significantly reduced the number of uninsured New Jerseyans, the state’s savings of $350 million in charity care expenses could be erased. Under charity care, New Jersey sends funds to hospitals to pay for uncompensated care provided to disadvantaged New Jerseyans.

“The governor is preparing to send the Legislature a budget for the upcoming year and he can’t ignore the devastating impact the national Republican agenda would have on New Jersey,” said Senate Budget Chairman Paul Sarlo (D-Bergen). “Hundreds of thousands of people will lose coverage, the state will lose billions in federal aid, and thousands of jobs will be lost. The need to dedicate more spending to charity care and to Medicaid will crowd out spending for important priorities from education to services for people with disabilities. The governor has to address this reality.”

A draft reform plan authored by Congressional Republicans surfaced Friday in published reports, revealing a proposal that would dismantle the ACA by repealing the individual mandate, cutting subsidies for healthcare, eliminating the Medicaid expansion, as well as hard-fought insurance protections, among other important provisions which would result in lost coverage for many and drastically higher costs for older Americans and the poor.

“The ACA offers significant benefits for residents, particularly our most vulnerable,” said Senate Commerce Chair Nellie Pou (D-Bergen, Passaic). “The threat of losing it is real for families who rely on protections granted by the ACA, federal subsidies and health coverage under Medicaid. It is also real for the thousands of people who risk losing jobs if this landmark reform law is rolled back.”

“The push for repeal by President Trump and Republicans in Congress is reckless and its disastrous impact on our state cannot be overstated,” said Senate Health Chairman Joseph Vitale (D-Middlesex). “We have to be vocal and we need the governor to reach out to his allies in Washington to send a message that this is unacceptable and will cause unthinkable damage to the health of people in New Jersey and across the country who desperately need coverage.”

Lawmakers across the country are speaking out during a national “Fighting for Families” week of action, coinciding with President Trump’s address to Congress Tuesday, highlighting the need to advance policies that will help working people and provide families with economic security, rather than those that would further harm progress made in a number of important areas, including access to health care.