TRENTON – In the face of a federal government determined to undermine the Affordable Care Act of 2010, Senator Joe Vitale sponsored another bill that would help shore-up New Jersey’s health insurance market by instating a state-level health insurance assessment (HIA) fee.
The New Jersey fee would not be a new charge but would replace the current HIA which is a federal fee on health insurance companies that was established to help fund the ACA. The state-level HIA, which would replace the existing fee, set to expire January 1, 2021, would generate revenue to improve health care access and affordability through a variety of mechanisms. Revenues would be used to fund subsidies, reinsurance, tax policies, outreach and enrollment efforts, and other endeavors to extend coverage to and improve affordability of health insurance for low- and moderate-income families and the uninsured.
“This bill will help to ensure that people are able to afford health insurance during this critical time when a global disease is not only threatening their health, but their financial security in unimaginable ways,” said Senator Joe Vitale (D-Middlesex), Chair of the Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee. “Of the many fissures exposed by COVID-19, the deficiencies in a system that relies on employer-based coverage is one that can’t be ignored. These subsidies could not come at a more critical time, in the midst of a pandemic, when health insurance is more vital than ever.”
The HIA proposed in this bill is projected to bring in over $300 million in revenue for New Jersey in calendar year 2021. However, since it is continuing the structure of fees already in place, New Jersey should not see an overall increase in premiums due to the assessment.
The bill passed the Senate Commerce Committee today by a vote of 3-2 today and next heads to the Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee for further review.