Will Christie Refuse To Help Make Health Insurance Affordable?

NJ.com — Tuesday, July 9, 2013

By John D. Atlas / NJ Voices

Chris Christie is in a tight spot as he ponders how to implement the new Affordable Health Care law.

Beginning October 1, New Jerseyans of all incomes will have access to an online health insurance Marketplace where they can shop for new, affordable private health insurance and access public programs like Medicaid and NJ Family Care. Most New Jerseyans will also be eligible for federal subsidies that help offset the cost of health insurance. These programs move us toward making insurance affordable for all of our residents.

Since most people don't know about the new program, the Federal government gave New Jersey $7.6 million to educate families about the new coverage options and how to access them. If you thought Governor Christie would jump at the opportunity to use this money to make sure New Jerseyans know about these new programs, think again. Though Christie got $7.6 million to help inform the public about these new programs, he hasn't spend a dime yet, and he remains uncommitted to help educate the public.

Last Friday he vetoed a bill that would have provided health insurance to hundreds of thousands of the state's poor who are currently ineligible, even though 100% of the funds would come from the Federal Government. Why does he continue to oppose affordable health insurance for the people of New Jersey? Because he needs to shore up his support among the Republican Right Wing base who for political and ideological reasons hate the Affordable Care Act.

For example, Americans for Prosperity, a Right Wing Super PAC funded by friends of Christie, the billionaire Koch brothers, just launched a new $1 million ad campaign criticizing the Affordable Care Act. And Christie will need the Koch Brother's money for his presidential bid.

So Christie's putting his ambition for power and glory before the needs of New Jersey residents.

Of course this is nothing new. Chris Christie recently faced a dilemma when he had to choose the election date to replace the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg.

Recall that he could have voters elect a new senator in an already scheduled November 2013 election — when Christie is up for re-election — or spend millions on a special election a few weeks earlier in a special election. Most people thought Christie wouldn't choose the former because in 2009 he ruled out holding a costly special election if, hypothetically, Sen. Lautenberg died. Well, Christie opted for the special costly election because the Governor didn't want to appear on the same ballot as presumptive Democratic Senate nominee Cory Booker. It would hurt his chance for a big win that would impress his fellow Republicans and boost his 2016 presidential ambitions. It's conventional wisdom that he did this for purely political reasons.

In other words, Christie, who wants to run for president in 2016, preferred to waste some $12 million in taxpayer dollars—the cost of a special election—in a self-serving, corrupt abuse of power. That was outrageous and irresponsible.

For more information about what you can do to push Christie to help New Jersey's families check out New Jersey Citizen Action's website.

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