Murphy signs bill requiring health coverage in NJ, or face penalty

BY Christopher Lang, Correspondent, @topherlang2 | Jun 1, 2018 | MonroeNow

TRENTON – Governor Murphy signed a law this week that requires state residents to have insurance or pay a penalty.

The legislation is a direct response to the Republican lawmakers’ repeal of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act through last year’s sweeping tax bill reforms.

Governor Murphy

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy. (NJ Governor’s Office)

Many have argued that the individual mandate was needed to keep the health care markets afloat and keep healthy citizens in the market.

The law signed Wednesday imposes a penalty of 2.5 percent of a person’s income or $695 per eligible individual, whichever is greater. It caps a family penalty at $2,085.

According to the law, the fines collected would help fund a reinsurance program that will help insurers cover high-risk residents and their claims. The reinsurance program was a second bill murphy signed called the New Jersey Health Insurance Premium Act.

The state estimates $100 million will be collected in fines for use in the reinsurance program, with an additional $100 million coming from the federal government. However, the law requires the state to get a waiver from the federal government to start the program.

“We cannot stand idle as our residents are put at risk,” Assemblyman John McKeon, D-Essex/Morris, said in a statement. “We fought long and hard to get more people insured in New Jersey because it’s both fiscally and socially responsible.” McKeon was a prime sponsor of the Assembly bill.

In response to establishing the individual mandate, New Jersey Republican Chairman Doug Steinhardt said “This mandate is more bad news for some of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents. It levies a penalty that falls mostly on New Jersey’s low-income families and millennials. …This is just another example of government inserting itself where it doesn’t belong and fixing a problem that doesn’t exist.”

According to the Associated Press, New Jersey joins Massachusetts as the only states to have this law. It also reported a few other states were considering similar policies.