New Jersey Governor Chris Christie vetoed legislation to create a state health-care exchange, calling it premature to enact the measure while questions of constitutionality are pending with the U.S. Supreme Court.
Key tenets of President Barack Obama’s 2010 health-care overhaul, including its individual mandate and requirement for states to establish the exchanges, may be invalidated, Christie, a first-term Republican, said in a statement today.
New Jersey’s Democratic-controlled Legislature passed the measure in March, 10 days before the nation’s highest court began three days of hearings on challenges to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, which requires Americans to obtain health insurance. Christie had declined as recently as May 8 to say whether he’d veto the bill.
“I am concerned that a hastily created exchange in New Jersey will impose unnecessary obligations upon the state’s taxpayers,” Christie, 49, said in the statement. “The very constitutionality of the Affordable Care Act is cloaked in uncertainty.”
Fourteen states and Washington, D.C., as of April 13 had established health-care exchanges and 19, including New Jersey, were studying options, according to the Henry. J. Kaiser Family Foundation, based in Menlo Park, California.
Christie said the bill would have committed New Jersey to establishing a new health-care program for individuals earning as much as 200 percent of the poverty level without guarantee of federal funding to support it. He also said the process of certifying participating plans would have limited the number of them involved, and he opposed a $50,000 salary for board members of the new exchange.
Assemblyman Herb Conaway, a Democrat and physician who sponsored the legislation, said Christie’s veto has “hurt chances of fully benefiting from federal health-care reform.”
“I am disappointed that Governor Christie put national political pressures ahead of the well-being of New Jersey,” Conaway said in a statement. “His actions have once again shown his complete disregard for our most vulnerable populations.”