Republican New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has proposed to expand Medicaid in his state as part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. While the sharp tongued Governor is not a fan of the law, as he stated yesterday during his address to his Assembly, he is willing to give the expansion a try and if it does not work, he will end it.
His decision to expand Medicaid was applauded with a standing ovation. Though coverage will be accessible to those making less than $15,000 a year, Christie reminded his Assembly that he will not have the state of New Jersey set up insurance exchanges and will instead let the federal government handle the exchange.
Chris Christie is the 8th Republican Governor to expand Medicaid, following Florida, Ohio and Michigan. With New Jersey on board now, 22 states and the District of Columbia have agreed to expand health coverage while 13 have rejected it. Other states have yet to decide how they want to address the impending new laws taking effect next year.
Under the expansion in New Jersey, up to 300,000 eligible citizens could be covered through 2022. The federal government will provide the state of New Jersey and other states the full cost of the expansion from 2014 to 2016. That share will decline to 90% by 2022. Currently, the federal government gives states roughly 57% for expenses to children, pregnant women and those with disabilities. Only single adults who make less than $2,800 a year are covered by Medicaid. There are currently over 1 million who are uninsured in the state and NJ would save almost $2.5 billion due to the federal government picking up costs.
The exchanges that will be set up either by the state, or by the federal government if a state refuses to do so, are designed for higher income individuals to buy health insurance plans as having health insurance will become mandatory. Expansion of Medicaid was to be mandatory, however the Supreme Court ruled against the provision and made it optional for states. Though states who accept Medicaid expansion will be able to ease their state budgets for the time being and insure more Americans as well as helping the state hospitals.
Chris Christie has been projected into the limelight due to his extraordinary handling of Hurricane Sandy just before the Presidential election. His willingness to compromise has angered some politicians in the Republican party but his approval ratings have soared among both Republicans and Democrats. He has spoken out against his party for playing politics and not doing what’s right for the people who voted them in.
The way Christie has broken party lines may make it difficult for him if he were to run in a primary for President in 2016 though he is expected to retain his governorship in 2014.