NJ governor vetoes Health Exchange bill


By Peter Rudegeair

Dec 6
(Reuters) – New Jersey Governor Chris Christie said on  Thursday he
vetoed a bill that would have created a health  insurance exchange for
his state under President Barack Obama’s  signature healthcare program.

Christie,
whose announcement came on a day when he was  visiting the White House
to discuss tens of billions in federal  recovery aid after Superstorm
Sandy, joined 18 other states in  rejecting a measure to create
state-based health insurance  markets where consumers could purchase
private, federally  subsidized coverage.

Christie,
a Republican who has nurtured a reputation as a  cost cutter, cited
uncertainty over what such an exchange would  cost the state and over
what kind of flexibility New Jersey will  have in managing it.

“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,” Christie said in a  statement.

The
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has set a   Dec. 14
deadline for states to decide whether they will  participate in
state-based, federal or partnership exchange.  Some 18 states have said
they will create their own state-based  exchanges and another 18 plan to
default to a federal exchange,  according to the Kaiser Family
Foundation.

This marks the second time this year
that Christie vetoed an  attempt to create a state healthcare exchange.
He rejected a  similar bill in May on the grounds that the healthcare
law,  called the Affordable Care Act, might be unconstitutional, a  view
the Supreme Court rebuffed when it ruled in favor of the  law in June.

The
veto also comes as Christie pressed his case in closed  door meetings
with Obama and House Speaker John Boehner for   funds to finance
clean-up and rebuilding efforts following the  storm.

New
Jersey and New York officials are seeking $80 billion,  despite a media
report that the White House will request only  $50 billion.