N.J. to Join Federal Health-Care Exchange, Christie Says

Governor Chris Christie said he gave formal notice to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services that New Jersey will join a federally administered exchange in 2014.

Today was the deadline for states to join the federal system, declare a state-federal partnership or create their own. Christie, 50, a first-term Republican seeking re-election, said in a statement that his administration “is committed to meeting our obligation to comply with the Affordable Care Act, but only in a manner that is the most effective and efficient for the residents of New Jersey, and the businesses that will carry the costs of this new program.”

The health-care exchanges, where consumers may compare providers and buy insurance coverage, are to start operating in 2014. The federal government will establish the markets in states that haven’t created them.

Christie had advocated repeal of the Affordable Care Act signed by U.S. President Barack Obama in 2010. He said it may benefit a small segment of the population at the expense of the whole. In May 2012, he vetoed the Democratic-controlled legislature’s proposal to create a health-coverage purchasing pool. Today’s action was “the most responsible choice” for New Jersey, he said.

New Jersey has 8.8 million residents, with an average 1.3 million uninsured from 2009 to 2011, according to U.S. Census data.

Sixteen states have committed to create their own exchanges. The Obama administration will meet an Oct. 1 deadline for setting up the systems, Gary Cohen, director of the Department of Health and Human Services consumer information division, said yesterday at a Senate Finance Committee hearing in Washington.

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