Gov. Phil Murphy is poised to sign his sought-after bill to create a state-level health exchange, similar to the Affordable Care Act, after lawmakers added amendments to make Medicaid plans eligible to take part in the exchange, and sent the measure to his desk.
The language added into Senate Bill 49/3807 on Thursday requires the Department of Banking and Insurance to make Medicaid plans available on the state-level exchange through coordination with the Department of Human Services, which oversees the Medicaid program. DHS and DOBI would be required to coordinate with the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services for “federal financial participation funds.”
Murphy said he was worried the state would miss out on that money if lawmakers did not send him the bill before the Aug. 1 federal deadline for states to set up their own health exchanges.
S49/3807 was approved Thursday by a 25-1 vote in the Senate and 49-24 in the Assembly.
Murphy unveiled the package of measures which mirror many aspects of the ACA over the past year – such as allowing dependents to stay on their parents health plan until the age of 26 and creating an individual health insurance mandate – but the exchange would be the most vital component for a state-level plan.
The fate of the ACA has fallen under increasing uncertainty over the past several years as President Donald Trump has taken several efforts to scale back the program, including narrowing the enrollment period to 45 days and cutting funding for navigator services and marketing of the program.
“An integrated exchange enables the state to meet the needs of multiple programs with one system that ensures people get the coverage they qualify for, that streamlines the process, eliminates delays and will generate additional federal funds to help offset operational costs,” Senate President Stephen Sweeney, D-3rd District, said in a statement Thursday afternoon.
“This is a significant improvement that will create an integrated exchange to automatically enroll those who are eligible for Medicaid with a single process,” the statement adds. “Now that the governor has committed to adopting the Medicaid eligibility amendment, we can move forward.”
Sweeney had initially delayed scheduling a vote for S49/3807. On Wednesday at a press conference in Paterson, Murphy – going off topic – publicly called on the Senate president to hold a vote on the measure.
“The Senate president shares my goal of a streamlined exchange that also integrates Medicaid recipients,” Murphy said. “I am happy to work with him and his colleagues to make sure that happens. However, this concept should not be used to block the path to the entire exchange.”