Governor Christie Vetoes Exchange Bill – Again

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced that he has vetoed a bill that would have created a health insurance exchange for New Jersey. This is not the first time he has vetoed a bill like this one. Jon Stewart had an interesting comment about this when Governor Christie was on The Daily Show.

First, a little history. In May of 2012, Governor Chris Christie, of New Jersey, vetoed a bill that would have allowed New Jersey to create an online marketplace for residents of the state, (and small businesses), to buy health insurance.

That veto happened before the Supreme Court heard the case about the Affordable Care Act. What were his reasons for vetoing the bill? At the time, Governor Christie said (in part):

“Because it is not known whether the Affordable Care Act will remain, in whole or in part, it would be imprudent for New Jersey now to create an exchange before these critical threshold issues are decided with finality by the court.”

On June 28, 2012, the Supreme Court upheld the majority of the Affordable Care Act. (The part that wasn’t upheld was the requirement that states expand their Medicaid programs. That became optional).

On December 7, 2012, Governor Chris Christie announced that he had, once again, vetoed a bill about setting up an exchange. He vetoed a measure that would have allowed New Jersey to create a state-based health insurance market where consumers could purchase either a private health plan or obtain federally subsidized coverage. What was the reason for the veto this time? Governor Christie said:

“I will not ask New Jerseyans to commit today to a state-based exchange when the federal government cannot tell us what it will cost, how that cost compares to other options, and how much control they will give the states over this option that comes at the cost of our state’s taxpayers.”

That announcement came on a day when Governor Christie was visiting the White House. He was there to ask for tens of billions in federal recovery aid to help with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

Governor Christie was a guest on the The Daily Show recently. Somewhere in the conversation, he said there was a difference between asking for disaster relief and setting up a health exchange. Jon Stewart had a very insightful response. He said:

“If you have cancer and don’t have health insurance, that’s Hurricane Sandy”.

An uninsured person who has cancer will end up with more medical bills that he or she will ever be able to pay for. The financial devastation that occurs as a result is not unlike the financial devastation one faces after losing their home to Hurricane Sandy.

Image by Bob Jagendorf on Flickr