Gov. Chris Christie said he is exploring letting the federal government set up the state health insurance exchange required by the federal health care overhaul to allow individuals to buy coverage.New Jersey may not need to expand its Medicare program as much as some other states (think Louisiana, Florida and Texas for instance) to cover those uninsureds anticipated to be covered under the PPACA. It would be a more gradual and smaller expansion, but it would still bring more people into coverage than the current system.
He also said he is not sure that New Jersey needs to expand Medicaid under the federal law because the state's program that covers the poor and disabled is already so inclusive.
The Republican governor made the comments while appearing on Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends" show, one of four national television appearances he was making Tuesday, a day after he told New Jersey lawmakers during a special session that they should cut taxes.
New Jersey legislative Democratic leaders said they had already agreed to a tax cut and accused the governor of trying to win more national attention.
Speaking on "Fox and Friends," Christie told about how he rejected the legislative Democrats' $800 million income tax increase, but he did not mention that it was intended only for people making more than $1 million or that the Legislature also adopted a tax cut plan.
I think that's Christie's way of finessing around the fact that the PPACA's individual mandate wont affect most NJ residents and that the expanded coverage would help those residents who don't have access to affordable insurance coverage.
As for the over portion of his appearance on Fox, the tax hike would have funded a larger property tax relief package, or funded transportation projects without the need for more bonding. He's mostly upset that he couldn't secure as large a property tax relief package as he wanted, and that legislative Democrats figured out a way to condition the property tax relief on meeting revenue estimates.
Considering that the revenue estimates aren't likely to be reached (they are at an unobtainable 7.2% growth estimate that flies in the face of current national and regional trends), the Democrats actually did the fiscally responsible thing by limiting the program to only when the state could afford it thereby avoiding a potential budget buster.