Christie Said to Propose Medicaid Expansion in N.J. Budget

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, a critic of President Barack Obama’s health-care overhaul, will say that he plans to expand his state’s Medicaid program under the act, according to four people with knowledge of the plan.

Christie, a 50-year-old Republican seeking re-election in November, will call for the expansion as part of a $32.9 billion budget that also includes a $1.6 billion pension payment and raises spending by slightly more than 2 percent, according to lawmakers and aides in both parties. They declined to be identified because they aren’t authorized to speak before Christie unveils his spending plan today.

Michael Drewniak, a spokesman for the governor, didn’t immediately answer an e-mail seeking comment.

Christie joins at least seven other Republican governors who have agreed to expand Medicaid, the federal-state health program for the poor, after Florida’s Rick Scott said last week that he supports doing so. Five of the governors backing expansion -- Scott, John Kasich of Ohio, Susana Martinez of New Mexico, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and Rick Snyder of Michigan -- will stand for re-election next year.

Until 2017, the U.S. government will pay the entire cost of covering people made newly eligible for the program. Thereafter, states don’t have to pay more than 10 percent of the cost. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the expansion will cost the federal government about $638 billion through 2023, and states about $63 billion.

Obama’s health law, which passed Congress in 2010 without a single Republican vote, may extend insurance over the next decade to about 27 million people who are currently uninsured.

About 8 million additional people will enroll in Medicaid programs next year because of the expansion, which raises the income eligibility limits, the CBO estimates.

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