Gov. Phil Murphy on Thursday signed a package of bills designed to safeguard the provisions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New Jersey.
According to Murphy, the nine bills, which will codify into state law the basic protections for health care consumers that are part of the Affordable Care Act, include protections for no-cost preventative care and contraception, prohibit exclusions for pre-existing conditions, allow children to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, and incorporate mental health and maternity care as part of essential benefits, among others.
The governor highlighted the importance of these bills during a round table discussion at JFK Medical Center in Edison where he was joined by Hackensack Meridian Health Chief Executive Officer Bob Garrett.
Murphy said the main themes of the bills that he signed are to assure health care affordability and access to health care.
“Whether you’re a family, a business, or an individual, it’s just too darn expensive in too many cases and hard to access. Our job collectively is to help keep the quality high and have New Jersey still be the place where folks come to get treatment, to do research and to make sure that we can make this a right and not a privilege for everybody,” said Murphy.
Safeguarding the ACA: Murphy signs 9 pieces of legislation
Assembly Bill 5500 – Expands rate review process in NJDOBI for certain individual and small employer health benefits plans
Assembly Bill 5501 – Requires continuation of health benefits dependent coverage until a child turns 26 years of age
Assembly Bill 5503 – Establishes open enrollment period under the Individual Health Coverage Program
Assembly Bill 5504 – Applies 85 percent loss ratio requirement to certain large group health benefits carriers
Assembly Bill 5506 – Repeals statute authorizing offering of “Basic and Essential” health benefits plans under individual health benefits plans and other statutes concerning basic health plans; makes conforming amendments
Assembly Bill 5507 – Requires health benefits coverage for certain preventive services
Assembly Bill 5508 – Revises law requiring health benefits coverage for certain contraceptives
Assembly Bill 5248 – Preserves certain requirements that health insurance plans cover essential health benefits
Senate Bill 626 – Clarifies prohibition on preexisting condition exclusions in health insurance policies
Murphy said that the ACA has been a game-changer in New Jersey.
“It is not perfect but we are more than halfway up the mountain and it has made a huge difference for so many lives in our state. Let’s make sure we don’t slip back down that mountain.”
Garrett applauded the governor for signing the legislation.
“I’m a strong believer that we need to build on the affordable care act and protect it. It hasn’t accomplished everything maybe that it set out to but we are in a much better state in health care with it then we were before it,” said Garrett.
Garrett said that around 800,000 New Jerseyans now have insurance through the exchanges that were established or through the expansion of the Medicaid program who didn’t have insurance before and ended up in emergency departments without insurance or without primary care doctors.
“So there is no doubt that it has made a big difference,” said Garrett.
Murphy applauded his colleagues in the Legislature for taking what he called the critical steps necessary to ensure that the provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act are codified into state law and for working to make the health of our residents a top priority.