TRENTON, NJ -- Gov. Phil Murphy announced the launch of the state’s official health insurance marketplace, Get Covered New Jersey, during his COVID press briefing in Trenton on Thursday. Oct. 15. The exchange is now open to Garden State residents to browse health plans, compare prices, and find out if they may qualify for financial help ahead of the Affordable Care Act Open Enrollment Period that begins Nov. 1.

New Jersey residents will no longer use HealthCare.gov to enroll in Marketplace health insurance plans. Instead, help will only be available through Get Covered New Jersey. The governor says that individuals eligible for subsidy assistance and premium tax credits will find the lowest net premiums since the passage of the Affordable Care Act ("Obamacare").

Get Covered New Jersey provides a one-stop shop for health insurance for residents who do not have coverage from an employer or other program. Additionally, the governor says that it is the only place residents can get financial help to purchase a plan. The governor claims that more financial help than ever before is available to eligible residents shopping on the state marketplace as a result of new state subsidies passed by the Legislature and signed by Gov. Murphy. 

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“Our administration has fought for improved access to quality affordable health coverage for residents based on the fundamental principle that health care is a right. The coronavirus pandemic has underscored the need for all residents to have health coverage and there is no more important time than now for New Jersey to make the transition to its own health insurance marketplace,” said Murphy. 

"While the federal government continues to attack the Affordable Care Act amidst a global pandemic, we’re lowering health care costs and expanding access to care in New Jersey," Gov. Murphy said. “Our policies improve affordability and access to coverage at a critical time. I urge residents who need health coverage to check out their options at Get Covered New Jersey now, before open enrollment starts.”

Latest COVID-19 Numbers

Gov. Murphy announced that he received notification of 973 new positive COVID-19 test results, bringing the statewide cumulative total to 216,994. He reported six new fatalities due to COVID-19 complications, which brings the statewide total to 14,408 confirmed and another 1,789 probable deaths.

"Ocean, Bergen, and Essex counties all reported more than 100 cases today. Middlesex County is reporting 89 cases. Hudson and Monmouth are both over 70 new cases," the governor reported. 

Regarding school reopenings, the governor said that many districts are transitioning from all-remote to hybrid learning models. He said that full, in-class sessions will take a lot longer. 

"We've begun to see a migration from all-remote to hybrid. The migration to full-on school will be a lot less," Murphy said, adding that 22 outbreaks can be traced to New Jersey schools. "Six weeks into the school year, to have 22 cases of known transmission covering 83 people is well within any reasonable expectation that we had. The NJ Dept. of Health (DOH) and New Jersey Dept. of Education (DOE) continue to work with our educational communities and local health departments to deal with new cases quickly and keep our schools safe."

Murphy said that the statewide positivity rate for all tests recorded on Oct. 11 was 4.35%, and the statewide rate of transmission today sits at 1.16. He added that as of 10:00 p.m. Wednesday, there were 542 confirmed cases and 191 persons under investigation (for a total of 733). Of those hospitalized, 178 are in ICU and 60 required a ventilator. 

"We don't have a therapeutic yet. We don't have a vaccine yet. There's only one way to get these numbers back down to where they were only a few weeks ago, and that's by doing the basics: wearing a face mask, by social distancing, washing your hands frequently with soap and water," Murphy said. "If you don't feel well or if you've been exposed to someone who's COVID positive, take yourself off the field. Wait a few days. Get tested."

"That's all we got, folks. As the weather cools, those numbers are not going to change themselves. Only we can change those numbers," he added.

"We entered into what feels like a surge in a very good place," Murphy said. "We will work on getting our numbers down. We don't have any reports of outbreaks resulting from indoor dining."

Commissioner of Health Judy Persichilli reported that New Jersey is now in the 'yellow zone' for the first time and that percentages are up in every section of the state, except the southeast. 

Unemployment

Gov. Murphy said at the press conference that the NJ Dept. of Labor is getting ready to distribute up to $1.5 billion in the FEMA Lost Wages Assistance program. Eligible claimants can expect to see this money as a lump sum in their bank accounts or on their debit cards early next week, he said.

"This is another great example of why we need more robust, sufficient federal funds," the governor said. "It's not just for state and local government, it's for folks who are unemployed, who need that bridge to a better future that we all know is coming. But right now it's hard for small businesses, for restaurants, for hospitality."

According to the NJ Department of Labor, over 29,000 New Jerseyans filed an initial claim for unemployment this week -- an increase of roughly 5,500 from last week. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March, more than 1.65 million New Jerseyans have sought unemployment benefits, with nearly 1.44 million of those qualifying for benefits.

"Roughly 96% of all who have been deemed eligible have received a payment and that's a total of $16.5 billion, and the average worker has received nearly $12,000 in benefits," Murphy said. "Commissioner Robert Asaro Angelo and his team continue their work to clear all eligible beneficiaries for the funds they deserve, and that includes their work to implement the new $300 per week FEMA Lost Wages Assistance Program to people whose unemployment is COVID-related."

Thanksgiving

"It's time to start thinking about Thanksgiving and the Holiday Season. This week, I talked with the CDC Director about COVID-19 and vigilance with indoor gatherings. We urge everyone to take stock of how many people you may be inviting to your Thanksgiving table," Murphy said.

NJ Commissioner of Health Judith Persichilli said the CDC shared that small gatherings are an increasing source of spread of COVID-19.

"Last week, the CDC released a study of a family gathering where extended family members stayed in a house together for several weeks. That led to an outbreak," she said. "One adolescent with COVID-19 spread the virus to 11 other family members, including her mother, father and grandparents."