PATERSON, NJ – Governor Murphy was in Paterson on Friday to announce a package of legislative initiatives introduced to safeguard the principles of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) in New Jersey and establish and fund a State-Based Exchange (SBE).

The Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, was a sweeping health care reform bill signed by President Barack Obama in 2010 in an effort to reduce the number of Americans without health insurance.

Many of the provisions included within the federal legislation have come under fire with both legislative and legal challenges being pursued with varying degrees of success.

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“At a time when the Affordable Care Act is under constant attack in Washington, we have a responsibility to provide access to high-quality, affordable health care coverage for all New Jersey residents,” said Governor Murphy. “I am honored to work with our legislative partners to ensure that New Jersey sets a higher standard in our nation’s health care discussion by enshrining the principles of the Affordable Care Act into state law.”

According to a statement released to coincide with the announcement, the bills proposed will write into state law the basic protections for health care consumers that are part of the Affordable Care Act, including protections for no-cost preventive care, prohibiting exclusions for preexisting conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents’ plan until age 26, and protecting maternity care as essential health benefits, among others.

A key bill in the package authorizes the Department of Banking and Insurance to create and fund a State Based Exchange (SBE), a mechanism through which consumers can research and purchase health insurance. The SBE will, according to New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance Commissioner Marlene Caride, establish policies that provide greater stability in the market, improved access to coverage for residents and increased protections against federal efforts to destabilize the market.

On hand to support the initiatives was Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. who chastised what he termed “arson and sabotage” on the part of President Trump and the Repblican Party against efforts to make sure Americans have access to affordable healthcare.

“Having a Governor and a legislature implementing policies to support the health and well-being of New Jersey residents is refreshing,” Pascrell said. “Rather than blocking access to health care, today New Jersey is rightly building on the tremendous benefits provided for in the Affordable Care Act. "

“It is more than health insurance, it is security. It is the safety you feel in knowing that if something goes wrong you have somewhere to go,” said Senator Nellie Pou (D-Bergen/Passaic) who is listed as a prime sponsor of six of the bills being introduced. Calling the federal law “life-saving” and saying that it has led to provision of coverage for “a lot more” New Jersey residents that previously, Pou said that she and her colleagues in the Legislature “have a duty, as public officials, to maintain the standards, protections and options for all of our state residents, regardless of who is in Washington D.C.”

Critical to the success of any legislative initiative is Assembly Speaker Craig Coughlin who was on hand to lend his support to the 14 bill package.

“With the Affordable Care Act under constant threat in Washington, New Jersey is choosing to proactively protect its residents to enact the same benefits, rights and protections afforded under the ACA.” Coughlin said. “Under our new state plan, every resident of New Jersey will continue to have access to comprehensive, quality health care.

“Health care is a right, not a privilege and I am proud of our efforts to protect families from financial loss for costs incurred because of sickness or injury.”