New Jersey Gov. Christie Vetoes State-Run Health Exchange Bill

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie vetoed legislation establishing a state-run health insurance exchange Thursday, blaming the federal government for failing to provide the answers he said he needs to make a fiscally sound decision on the best way to comply with the Affordable Care Act.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Photo credit: Office of the Governor
The governor said he has not eliminated any of the options available to states to comply with the national health care overhaul.

“New Jersey and all other states still await substantial federal guidance on the functioning of all three types of exchanges,” Christie said in his veto message. “To be sure, the decision of whether to move forward with a state-based exchange can only be fully understood when competitively compared to the overall value of the other options.”

States have until Dec. 14 to decide whether to establish a state-based exchange. They have more time to decide whether to partner with the federal government or let the feds run the state exchange.

Christie, who was in Washington on Thursday to lobby for Superstorm Sandy aid, said it would be irresponsible to decide now without knowing how much each option will cost.

Health insurance exchanges are online marketplaces where uninsured residents can shop for health care coverage.

A government watchdog group criticized the decision.

“The New Jersey Health Benefit Exchange Act would have provided a consumer and patient friendly framework for our state’s health insurance exchange, expanded access to affordable private insurance to 400,000 New Jersey residents, and allowed New Jersey to control its own destiny in implementing the Affordable Care Act,” said Jeff Brown, Policy and Communications Coordinator for NJ Citizen Action.

“New Jersey has always been a leader in health reform and we believe this veto was step backward in that regard.”