Democratic Gov.-elect Phil Murphy vowed Wednesday to fight to make sure everyone in New Jersey has health insurance but warned that there are limits to what a governor can do in the face of an “outright assault” on the Affordable Care Act by Republicans in Washington.
“We are going much more aggressive with being associated with the notion … that everybody has a right to health care,” Murphy said during an event organized by New Jersey Citizen Action, an advocacy group, in Newark.
“But let there be no doubt, let no one think otherwise,” he added, “there’s nothing that a state can do that can replace the federal government.”
Surrounded by local and state officials, advocates and beneficiaries of former President Obama’s signature health care law, Murphy criticized the Trump administration’s decision to slash the Affordable Care Act’s advertising budget by 90 percent, among other changes, and the move by Senate Republicans to include repeal of the law’s requirement that everyone carry health insurance in their proposal to overhaul the U.S. tax code.
Murphy said that, as governor, he would direct his agencies to be more pro-active than they were under outgoing Gov. Chris Christie, a Republican, in helping people enroll for coverage under the Affordable Care Act, which he said he been a “huge boon” for the state.
He also suggested he would appoint an attorney general who would “exhaust all legal options” in pushing back on federal policies that could cause New Jersey residents to lose coverage.
But Murphy declined to commit to other steps to safeguard insurance coverage in New Jersey, such as putting money in the state budget for advertising or adopting new regulations, such as those introduced in New York, to protect against a possible repeal of Obamacare, as the Affordable Care Act is commonly known.
“We have to assume everything is on the table,” he said.
Maura Collinsgru, New Jersey Citizen Action’s health care program director, said more than 500,000 New Jersey residents have obtained insurance coverage since Christie decided to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act in 2014.
This year, the window to enroll for coverage on the federal Obamacare insurance marketplace closes Dec. 15.