New Jersey governor signs health-care mandate into law after federal repeal


New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy (D) on Wednesday night signed into law a bill imposing an individual mandate for health insurance to replace a federal requirement that Congress repealed.

The move makes New Jersey the second state to require health-care coverage and impose a penalty on residents without it.  Massachusetts imposed the requirement as part of its health reform law in 2006.

Liberals praised New Jersey’s move, saying it should be a model for counteracting President Trump’s “sabotage” of the Affordable Care Act and preventing premium increases due to the repeal of the federal mandate in the Republican tax law last year.

The governor also signed a bill providing funding aimed at lowering premiums, known as “reinsurance.” Those funds help cover the costs of especially sick and costly patients, which helps keep costs down for everyone else.

{mosads}The state previously banned cheaper, skimpier plans that the Trump administration is seeking to expand, but that Democrats call “junk plans.”

“NJ took a big step today to protect its residents from Trump’s health care sabotage, passing an individual mandate and taking steps to establish a reinsurance program,” Sam Berger, a senior advisor at the liberal Center for American Progress wrote on Twitter. “The state previously banned junk plans. Other states should follow suit.”

Insurance companies also have shifted their attention to the state level after congressional efforts to pass legislation stabilizing markets and lowering premiums fell apart earlier this year due to a partisan dispute over abortion restrictions.

Democrats are looking to blame Republicans for premium increases due to the federal mandate repeal in the midterm election campaigns this year.

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